A huge elephant seal recently surprised a family on a beach in Baja California Sur. It crawled up on the beach, sending them fleeing from the massive mammal. In a video posted by a news outlet out of Ciudad Constitución, the family quickly gets up from their chairs and scurries away when the seal inches itself out of the water. It looks like the seal just wanted to find a new place to rest. It bypasses the family and comes to a stop in the sand, settling in.
Still, pretty scary to have an animal that big come out of the ocean in your direction. Elephant seals are not known to come into contact with humans very often–unless they get stranded in a city street–and they are usually not a threat to people. But, they can still be dangerous if someone enters their territory. Still, they’re awesome animals and just generally all-around interesting.
Most likely, this was a Northern elephant seal. Those are second only to their Southern counterparts, which is the largest seal in the world. Male elephant seals grow to weigh as much as a small truck, and are usually 14 to 16 feet in size. These seals are named because of the males’ trunk-like proboscis, which is just an enlarged nose. The females, however, do not develop this nose.
Friends of the Elephant Seal, an organization out of San Simeon, California, keeps a live beach cam running on Piedras Blancas. This is most often where elephant seals flock to give birth and molt during different times of the year. If you can’t get out to California to see the seals, this live cam is the next best thing.
California Officials Warned Beach-Goers of Record Number of Elephant Seal Pups
Back in February, Point Reyes National Seashore officials warned visitors about the record number of elephant seal pups born inside the park. There were so many, in fact, that they were starting to encroach on visitor areas.
“Visitors should keep a distance of at least 25 feet (or two car lengths) from seals that are seen outside of closed areas,” said Sarah Codde, marine ecologist. “The park does close pupping areas from public access to protect moms and pups, but also to protect visitors because the adult females are very protective of their pups and can be aggressive towards people that get too close.”
According to Codde, birthing and mating season lasts from December to March. During that time, the chances of coming across aggressive elephant seals rise dramatically. “Visitors need to be aware of how quickly the situation can change and be prepared to move out of the way of the seals,” said Codde. “This is a unique opportunity to be able to view elephant seals from a close distance. And we hope to keep doing this as long as people continue to respectfully view the seals.”