|Arguing Males from Friends of the Elephant Seals|
The breeding season is interesting for the Elephant Seal. Males come ashore and fight each other, often brutally, for mates. Elephant Seals are polygynous, with one male breeding with a large number of females. After the dominant males have established themselves, the female arrive and give birth to the pups that they have been pregnant with for the past year. While they are nursing their pups, they will mate again with one of the males. Once their pups are weaned and mating is complete, the seals return to the sea. It is possible for females to give birth to ten pups over their lifetimes, and their overall life expectancy is a few years longer than the males.
|Image from ItsNature|
Both Northern and Southern Elephant Seals were hunted to near extinction for their oil during the 19th and early 20th century. Populations are now protected, and the Northern species has been steadily growing. The Southern Elephant Seals, however, have been experiencing a population decline in recent years. The exact reason for this is unknown, but it may just be that without hunting, the population has grown faster than the prey can sustain.
Thanks to John for the suggestion!