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Southern Elephant Seals at Gold Harbour South Georgia by Ella Derbyshire

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About This Gigapan

Taken by
Ella Derbyshire Ella Derbyshire
Explore score
0.06 Gigapixels
Date added
Apr 05, 2008
Date taken
Mar 03, 2008

Nikon D80's


Mirounga leonina. These Southern Elephant Seals are resting on the beach while they replace last year's seal skin coat with a new one. This catastrophic molt leaves them land-bound until their new skin and fur is complete. If they were forced into the cold water before the molt is complete, they would be unlikely to survive. The seals are not eating now, and the shedding and regrowing process requires a lot of energy. They look so placid, basking in the sun. Even the bull seals, who are rivals that can get really scrappy under other circumstances, stop fighting.

Although they look big and awkward, elephant seals move surprisingly fast on land. Once they have their new fur, they will return to the sea. They are deep divers, holding their breath for over an hour and diving several kilometers in search of their favorite food, squid.

The Elephant Seals were hunted to near-extinction in the last century, but their numbers have increased since the seal hunting stopped.

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