Elephant Seal Romance and Combat

4th November 2015. Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The beachmaster arrives.

Southern elephant seals can dive for more than twenty minutes and have been recorded more than 2,000 metres down.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

I found a remote sheltered stony cove populated by elephant seals.  From my vantage point maybe ten feet above them, I was able to observe their interactions much more successfully than had I been at the same level.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Here he is, fresh from an elephant seal beauty contest in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Whether his overtures are appreciated is not perhaps the point as far as he is concerned.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The pup looks on seemingly with curiosity and concern.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

An illusory moment of domestic bliss, perhaps.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

As one can see here, the beachmaster and a female are very different in size.  Adult male southern elephant seals weigh up to five tonnes and are up to seven metres long.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife9

Hmm.  I had assumed those wounds on his nose were scars of combat.  Maybe there’s another explanation.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Two’s company…

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

I will resist the temptation to add an anthropomorphic label on this occasion.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

… but maybe not this one:  “Always look on the bright side of life”…

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

One may indeed contend whether “romance” and elephant seals should be mentioned in the same sentence.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

It’s possible that Donald Trump aspires to be a male elephant seal, though that’s perhaps being unfair to the elephant seals.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Beachmasters control a harem of up to several dozen females but need to be constantly on the lookout for interlopers trying to muscle in.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Being big is an advantage.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

These contests are serious and they can carry many scars.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The interloper retreats.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

And the contest continues in the sea.

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Elephant seals, Falkland Islands, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Sea Lion Island, seascape, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

But eventually he gives up and leaves the harem to the beachmaster.

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12 comments on “Elephant Seal Romance and Combat

  1. Beautiful shots Murray.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice pics..I like the Donald trump reference 😁👍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great images and post Murray 🙂 Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aditya says:

    Lovely shots and story…I have never seen these animals except on TV. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Robert says:

    Awesome collection Murray!!

    Liked by 1 person

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