ACS Monterey Bay Program for March 2010
Northern Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostris)
- Thursday, March 25, 2010
- 7 p.m. Refreshments, 7:30 p.m. Program
- Lecture Hall, Monterey Boatworks, Hopkins
Pacific Grove (Across from American Tin Cannery Outlet Stores)
- Speaker: Guy Oliver, Ph. D.
The Northern Elephant Seal is one of the largest mammals on the planet
with males approaching 5000 pounds and females exceeding 2000 pounds.
They are found in the eastern Pacific from Baja California, Mexico to
the Gulf of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. They are one of the deepest
diving mammals only surpassed by the sperm whale.
Like many species of whales, Northern Elephant Seals were hunted to near
extinction by the end of the 1800s. Hauling out for extended periods of
time during puping and breeding season they were easy targets for hunters.
When rendered, their blubber yielded a highly sought after, clean burning
oil used in lamps. Eventually they were reduced to a single breeding colony
off the west coast of Baja, California.
In the early 1900s Northern Elephant Seals were protected by law in Mexico
and United States. Further protection came with the passing of the Marine
Mammal Protection Act of 1972. As a result of legal protection the population
has made a robust recovery. Somewhat ironically, the demise of the grizzly
bear in California has also contributed to their recovery, allowing the
Elephant Seals to expand their haul-outs from off-shore islands to include
Our speaker is a field investigator who has been studying the Northern
Elephant Seal, especially those just up the coast from us at Ano Nuevo.
Not only has he studied the animal itself, he has also been fundamentally
involved in designing instrument tags which allow collection of data from
this deep-diving hunter. Currently in the field, Guy is gathering data
and checking up on individuals he has been following for some time.
Please join us for an informative presentation about this amazing creature
that also represents a very successful conservation effort.
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updated March 30, 2010