Saturday, July 08, 2006

Kelping off Victoria

J & L pods
Female Elephant Seal

On today’s noon trip on the Ocean Magic II all three pods were sighted together, traveling east off the shoreline of Victoria. While K pod went around Trial Island, the others swam close to shore through Enterprise Channel. The whales took advantage of the kelp beds as they swam slowly and ‘kelped’, rubbed their flukes and dorsal fins through the smooth blades of brown algae. We later headed over to Race Rocks Ecological Reserve and viewed the female elephant seals that are quite rare for this area.

Northern elephant seals have post-reproductive feeding excursions in the open sea for more than two months. Male range is typically further north than females. They forage for fish and squid at depths between 300 and 1500m for up to 25min by slowing heart and metabolic rates. The males are larger than females, as is their proboscis, which is used for dominance by production of loud repetitive vocalizations in crowded rookeries. Dialects are distinctive between regions (Le Boeuf and Pentrinovich 1975).

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