Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris)
Elephant seals are found occasionally in Oregon either resting or molting (shedding their hair) on sandy beaches. Elephant seals do not generally breed in Oregon, however there are a number of breeding sites in California such as Ano Nuevo State Reserve. Cape Arago State Park (Coos Bay, Oregon) is the only spot where elephant seals haul-out year-around in Oregon. Elephant seals have a sandy brown colored coat with no spots. Males are larger than females and can grow to 12 feet in length and weigh over 4,000 pounds. Adult female elephant seals are approximately 9 feet in length and weigh about 900 pounds. Pups are born between December and March, weigh around 60 pounds, and have a black coat. Female elephant seals nurse their pups for about 1 month before weaning (stop nursing) it abruptly. Weaned pups weigh about 400 pounds; the weaner then begins to go through a fasting period where it uses it’s stored fat to survive. During this period the pup loses its black coat, which is replaced by a light gray or silver coat. After the fasting period the pup will leave the rookery (nursery site) at about 2 to 3 months of age. The majority of the elephant seals seen in Oregon are sub-adult animals that come to shore to molt. Although these animals look like they are dying or in trouble do not approach them; if left alone, in most cases these animals will survive on their own.
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