In April 2011, I once again arrived on the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge to start another season of seabird research working with PRBO Conservation Science. In my seventh and perhaps last season, I decided to start a photo a day challenge for myself. The challenge is to share a new and interesting photo for each day I am on the island this year.
Despite the fact that this time of year our focus is on seabirds, there are some mammals present. There are five species of pinnipeds here including these elephant seals. Elephant seals breed here during the winter and this time of year, immature seals and females are here molting. Yes molting. They actually grow a new skin underneath their old skin and eventually the old skin peels off. Later in the summer, the big males and their impressive noses (the inspiration for the species name) will show up to do the same. In between molting and breeding, these seals spend all thier time at sea where they dive to incredible depths (up to 2000 feet). Elephants seals were nearly hunted to extinction in the 1800s so we are lucky to have them here today.