Monday, October 1, 2012

Farallon Pinnipeds

Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina).  Yes, they always look this frightened.
I was recently asked to put some photos up of the seals and sea lions (Pinnipeds) on the island, and, despite my predisposition to photographing animals with feathers and beaks, I have decided to embrace these furry and cute, though smelly, noisy, and peculiar marine mammals.  Afterall, I walk by them daily and rarely take the time to photograph or study them.  

Northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) are difficult to view at close range on the island, however I commonly see the other species at close range on the island – California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), Steller's sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina), and northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostrus).  All but the elephant seals are easily disturbed on the island, so we have to take special care not to flush them when doing bird surveys.  I have taken a particular liking to the immature male elephant seals which look like aliens, sound like crazy people, and smell horrible.

California sea lions and an elephant seal
Sleeping elephant seal
Elephant seals
Elephant seal
Harbor Seal
Steller's sea lion (the blonde one), with California sea lions

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