Elephant Seals

Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) are one of six pinniped species found in the San Francisco Bay Area. As top ocean predators, and prey for even larger predators like orca whales and great white sharks, they are a key component of the marine ecosystem. They spend most of their lives in the deep ocean waters of the North Pacific, journeying thousands of miles each year and diving to great depths in search of food.

Hundreds of elephant seals covering a long section of beach
Quick Reads

Discover more about the amazing lives of elephant seals, which come ashore seasonally at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Two weaned elephant seal pups playing
Photos & Multimedia

Take a visual journey into the world of elephant seals, and the National Park Service's efforts to monitor and protect them.

Elephant seal mother and her black pup

Get the latest on elephant seals from the Bay Area Nature & Science Blog.

Weaned elephant seal pups with a bull elephant seal
References and Links

Want to know more? This is your source for further information on elephant seals in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Long-term Monitoring

Changes in elephant seal populations often reflect changes in marine conditions, so monitoring them gives us important insights into the state of our oceans. Elephant seals can also be readily counted when they come ashore each year to give birth and breed (December-March), and later to molt (April-July). Point Reyes National Seashore is one of only about a dozen sites where northern elephant seals breed worldwide. Each year, the park and the San Francisco Bay Area Network Inventory and Monitoring Program monitor these seals to help understand population changes and management needs, and to develop research, interpretation, and regulatory strategies. Monitoring data has been collected at the park for the past 30 years providing valuable information on long-term trends.

NPS staff applying a small pink flipper tag to the tail of a young elephant seal
Pinniped Monitoring

Dig in to elephant seal monitoring protocols, reports, and more on the San Francisco Bay Area Network's Pinniped Monitoring page.

Elephant seal bulls facing off in a bloody battle on a Point Reyes beach
Seasonal Monitoring Updates

Keep up with the latest numbers as the National Park Service monitors elephant seals during their breeding and molting seasons.

Last updated: June 26, 2018