Southern Elephant seals (Mirounga leonina)

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Antarctic seals

When ashore and not competing with each other and when they don't have pups, elephant seals gather in groups called "pods". Pods are extremely smelly places. If the wind is towards you, you know you are coming up to an elephant seal pod long before you see it! A diet largely consisting of squid that is caught during feeding dives usually of 200 - 400m but sometimes up to 1500m doesn't do anything for the digestive system or your breath. Most of the time pods are quite fairly restful places in a constant snoring and guttural noise sort of way, but every now and then one of the inner most seals decides it wants to go to sea. A tonne or more of seal lumbering across his sleeping companions causes quite a commotion.

Elephant seals spend only a small amount of their time on land. Ashore they are cumbersome and great lumbering beasts, in the water like many aquatic animals, they become lithe and graceful with the blubber that made them ungainly on land becoming essential as insulation.

Photo; © Paul Ward