Elephant Seals Battling, Point Reyes


Action, Wildlife, Nature Photography, California, Elephant Seals, Point Reyes, Fujifilm X-T2

The Interloper

 

“In February, there’s lots of activity. While some mothers are still nursing, the dominant bulls “face off” to defend their harems, both on the beach and out in the surf. They align their head and body at their rivals, rear up to display their chest shields, raise their heads, and “trumpet.” This sound often scares off other bulls, but a chase may ensue to drive the intruder off the beach”. ~NPS

 

Action, Wildlife, Nature Photography, California, Elephant Seals, Point Reyes, Fujifilm X-T2

The Warning

 

Action, Wildlife, Nature Photography, California, Elephant Seals, Point Reyes, Fujifilm X-T2

The Battle

 

Action, Wildlife, Nature Photography, California, Elephant Seals, Point Reyes, Fujifilm X-T2

Alpha’s Lament

 

“Adult males range from 14 to 16 feet long and weigh up to 5,000 pounds. Females average 10 to 12 feet long and weigh up to 2,000 pounds.” ~NPS

 

Action, Wildlife, Nature Photography, California, Elephant Seals, Point Reyes, Fujifilm X-T2

Who is the Alpha?

 

Action, Wildlife, Nature Photography, California, Elephant Seals, Point Reyes, Fujifilm X-T2

Exhaustion

 

Action, Wildlife, Nature Photography, California, Elephant Seals, Point Reyes, Fujifilm X-T2

Get Off My Beach

 

Action, Wildlife, Nature Photography, California, Elephant Seals, Point Reyes, Fujifilm X-T2

Out to Sea

 

Action, Wildlife, Nature Photography, California, Elephant Seals, Point Reyes, Fujifilm X-T2

All Is Calm

 

 

Please click below to see short videos of this battle.

Elephant Seals Battling

Elephant Seal Trumpeting

 

 

 

Categories: Animals, Nature, Photography, WildlifeTags: , , , , , ,

80 comments

  1. Wow, you wouldn’t want to get between them. Such magnificent creatures.

  2. Great story but faces only a mother could love! Must have been thrilling to see this battle play out.

  3. How lucky to live that moment and be able to capture it in your retina and in your camera!! Stunning and beautiful images of pure nature. An affectionate greeting, dear Jane!

  4. Wow – fantastic photo documentation, Jane. Fascinating animals through and through. Thanks for the links as well.

    In our local Grey Seal rookery, the dominant bulls fight for the best territory and the less dominant ones looks terribly battled and weak, many don’t survive when they head out to sea again.

  5. So strange! The videos, with their surprisingly quick movements and the shaking of all that blubber, are especailly interesting. I bet it was intense to see in person!

  6. The struggle is hard; on note the traces of moiréure and the blood which flowed

  7. That must have been amazing to watch. They are such bizarre looking creatures. Not one of natures beauties.
    Alison

  8. Very striking shots, Jane, excellent! 🙂

  9. Wonderful stuff! I blogged about these guys recently, but I saw them in November, before the real big boys arrived. It was brilliant to watch the teenagers slogging it out, but I must get back to see the adult males in bloody blubbery combat.

  10. I think it could be frightening to watch them fight like those. I have never seen them real but I believe they are very big.

    • Hi YC, I would say it was disturbing more than frightening. The males can reach 5,000 lbs…if you are at a safe distance not to make any contact, you could outrun them, I think! Graceful on land, they are not – in the water, all bets are off. Thanks for viewing- I enjoy photographing and sharing about our fragile natural world.

  11. Elephant seals are such massive creatures! You did a great job capturing this clash of titans.

  12. Ik find them extremely funny looking with this ‘blob’ on their faces, but the battle isn’t funny at all, I even find it difficult to look at. Very beautifully photographed though and how exciting to have been able to capture this!

  13. These are purely amazing images, Jane! I especially love that B&W!!

  14. From a distance they appear so endearing, but up close, as in your images, you can really appreciate their massive bulk and cantankerous personalities!

  15. Hi Jane! Hope you’ve been well. Thanks for taking me into a beautiful word through your photography. 🙂 Have a great week.

    • Hi Cheryl! How great to hear from you. I’m doing fine and I hope you and Basil are, too. Glad you enjoyed this wildlife moment. Thanks very much and I’ll pop over to see where you’ve been. 🙂

  16. Wow, fabulous series and videos, Jane! Reading through the comments above it’s clear you witnessed something pretty amazing. It is also amazing that they have survived as a species—certainly not on their good looks 🙂 .

  17. Such unusual-looking creatures, and the battle was not fun to watch (but still fascinating!) I assume that is blood on their necks and chests? I’m giving a little shudder here.

    • Hi Lex, Agree…they are really unusual looking and it was very hard to watch, yet a fascinating nature experience. It was pretty violent and yes, bloody. Although they both finally went their separate ways and didn’t seem too injured. You can see battle scars on most of the big bulls. I love that photography documents nature and the environment with hopes it reminds us how precious these animals are. Thanks so much for viewing despite the uncomfortable scene.

  18. Yikes, that must have been quite something to witness. Excellent images!

  19. Wonderful pictures and video. You certainly wouldn’t want to get in the way of either of them !

  20. Incredible images Jane 👍🏻

  21. What extraordinary creatures. And what a brutal battle. Your photos convey the drama and competitive strength in this bruising encounter. The videos were fascinating to watch too.

  22. Faszinierende Bilder, danke Jane.

  23. These photographs are amazing. Sure takes a lot of work to protect a harem. :). Thank you for sharing.

  24. To witness a lengthy skirmish, it doesn’t happen often. I’ve read where wildlife photogs have to spend hours in waiting, sometimes days. And, the clashes are so short, they had to be ready to shoot a few frames.

    • Reading this, David, I realize how lucky we were. This lasted about 25 minutes and the Ranger said it was the longest battle she’d ever seen. I guess they were evenly matched. Thanks so much for looking- it was a thrill to photograph and video the encounter. 🙂

  25. They really mean business when they’re fighting. 😯

  26. Gotta say it… they are some ugly blobs of blubber. The battle for the harem looks pretty intense. Hope you had a long lens, but then I suppose the two of them were quite preoccupied. 😉

    • HI Gunta, They really are odd looking creatures and this battle was particularly long and intense according to a ranger who was there. They were very close to the walkway to the beach- I was using my short telephoto (about 135mm). The snorting, slapping and biting was gruesome.
      Also, your question on Vimeo-the interloper is on the right. Eventually sent out to sea…
      Thanks so much for your interest in this!

  27. Amazing that you were able to photograph this! Wonderful.

  28. Gosh, that looks rough! I hope those are only surface scratches, but judging from the scars, these guys are veteran fighters.
    I suppose biologist researchers marked the alpha V12 for ease of ID? Easier than tags, I reckon.

    • Hi Eliza, It was brutal to watch, really. The slapping and biting sounds along with the bloodshed. They meant business. I assume that the branding is the only way to tag them. The cycle of breeding is fascinating and treacherous- it’s a wonder that there are any successful births. Thanks so much for your interest! 🙂

  29. Wonderful photos of these ugly, but amazing animals, Jane. My friend leads docent tours at Ano Nuevo and we have gone on her tour.

  30. The female snoozing in the background say a lot!

  31. Several of the nature TV series have featured their brutal battles. I always feel so bad for the losers but somehow for the most part they carry on. Terrific images of the battle Jane

  32. I agree with Michael. Wow! A battle unfolded right in front of you. Amazing captures.

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