WE ARE EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. WE ARE WORKING TO GET THE CAMERA RUNNING MORE SMOOTHLY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.
If you are having difficulty viewing the video, see note below. The camera operates between 6:00 AM and 8:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time (1400 to 0400 GMT).
The development and implementation of the LiveCam has been a joint activity of Friends of the Elephant Seal and the California State Parks of the San Luis Obispo Coast. This development and its continuing operation are made possible through
the generosity of our many friends and members.
Beginning in late March, but primarily in April and May, the juveniles that were on the beach last fall and the adult females that were here in late December until early March return for the molt. They each fast on the beach for about a month, growing new skin and hair and shedding the old. Around the first of May we have the largest population of seals in the rookery – close to 5000 on the beaches adjacent to the parking lot. The main activity observed is the frequent sparring of the juvenile males.
These females and juveniles are followed, in June through August, by the sub-adult and adult males coming in to molt. Since only a small percent of male pups survive to reach this age group, the numbers on the beach during this period is small – but the animals are large. When these animals come next, in the winter months, dominance is very important but during the molt it plays no role but the mock battles seen with the juveniles continue with the sub-adults.
Our skin and hair cells also die and fall off and they are replaced by new cells, nourished in their development by our blood. Because the elephant seal’s internal temperature is the same as ours and the surrounding ocean is near freezing, they keep their blood inside their blubber layer when at sea to avoid the fatal energy loss they would experience otherwise. Since the circulation of blood next to the skin is minimal while at sea, they cannot grow new cells there. Thus they come on shore for the warmer and less conductive environment. One of their two visits to the beach each year is for what is called a “catastrophic molt.”
Note: Viewing the video requires Adobe Flash.