Monterey Bay

An elephant seal

Photo: Nick Zachar/NOAA

Northern Elephant Seal

In the 1800s, northern elephant seals were hunted almost to extinction, with a few hundred surviving in Mexico. With protection, the population has increased into the tens of thousands. During mating, pupping, and molting seasons, elephant seals can often be spotted hauled out on the beaches along Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

A world map highlighting The west coast of the United States and Canada

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Mirounga angustirostris

DIET: Squid, fishes, rays, and sharks

WEIGHT: 4,400 lbs (males); 1,300 pounds (females)

LIFE SPAN: 13-19 years

THREATS: Entanglement in fishing gear, vessel strikes, marine debris

STATUS: Protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act

FUN FACT: Male elephant seals have a large nose, or proboscis, which overhangs their lower lip by about eight inches.