South Georgia Wildlife

Page 2

The elephant seal is like a number of other animals in that they have dominant males (bulls) who control a number of females (cows) in a harem. To control a harem as the beachmaster they have to prove themselves. A challenging bull will call from the water with a loud throaty growl. The beachmaster will then answer back. One of the bulls may then back off but more often than not, a fight will ensue. As you can see from the picture, they rear up on their back ends, laying their teeth into the thick blubber. There is no finesse when the fighting takes place. It doesn't matter what is in the way, the only concern for the bulls is to meet the challenge. If a female or pup gets in the ay, then so be it. Wventually, one of the seals will retire to the water and peace reigns once more. There will be blood shed, but generally the wounds will heal, leaving scars.

Would you want to pick a fight with this? At a weight of something like 2 tons I wouldn't. Besides, you don't know what halitosis is until you have smelled the breath of these beasts. The largest ever, reliably recorded elephant seal on South Georgia, weighed ina t 4.5 tons and measured 18ft (5.5 metres) in length. You do not get in the way of this animal when he is angry. Note that the proboscis (nose, to you and me). This becomes inflated when the seal gets agry. I guess he wasn't to pleased with me for disturbing his afternoon nap. have a look at his back - lots of scars from fights.