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Northern Elephant Seal - Mirounga angustirostris
Photo by GFNMS files

Northern elephant seals have short, coarse brown or grey fur and a very thick layer of blubber for insulation from cold water. Males develop an elephant-like proboscis (snout) with age and can reach nearly 5,000 pounds, a weight many times greater than the adult females. These seals are widely known for their long migration distances and their incredible diving ability. Once a year they come ashore to molt, or shed their fur and first layer of skin. In between their molting and breeding season, northern elephant seals can remain at sea for six to eight months spending 86% of their time underwater.

Northern Elephant Seal
(Mirounga angustirostris)

Pacific northeastern waters and coastal California, especially on the northern Channel Islands

Open ocean except for breeding season when they prefer to haul out on sandy beaches

Fish, squid, eels, skates, rays, and sharks


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

Quick Fact
Northern elephant seal pups will more than triple their weight in the first month of life!

Learn More
- Seal Conservation Society
- The National Marine Mammal Laboratory
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology