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Northern Elephant Seal - Mirounga angustirostris
Photo by Howard Hall

The northern elephant seal is the largest seal in the world. The unique body structure of this mammal allows it to be an excellent open water swimmer and diver. Elephant seals can be identified by their large body size and the odd shaped nose (proboscis) found on the males. Elephant seals come to the shore at different times of the year to give birth, breed and to molt (shed their fur). These robust pinnipeds were once thought to be extinct, however, they did survive and the population is now growing!

Northern Elephant Seal
(Mirounga angustirostris)

Northern California south to Guadalupe Island, Northern Baja.

Near shore islands and coastal beaches during the spring mating season and out on the open ocean during the rest of the year.

Fish, squid and octopus.


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
Elephant seals are the most sexually dimorphic of all mammals; males are very large when compared to females and have a proboscis, likened to that of an elephant.

Learn More
- University of Michigan
- Encyclopedia Smithsonian
- Monterey Bay
- National Geographic
- Society for Marine Mammology