Los Farallones

Dispatches from Point Blue’s field station on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

The Battles Have Begun

With the arrival of the first (and so far, the only) pregnant elephant seal cow on Sand Flat – Drip, a 16-year-old cow born on SEFI in 1992 (see photo below of Drip with some amorous young subadults pining after her) – the battles between the males have started. Mauricio was the first bull to arrive. He lost a brief fight to Salvatore (see photo above; Mauricio is on the left) and is hanging out on the marine terrace. Rusty started off in Mirounga Beach, then pushed Salvatore onto Last Resort, and now is defending Drip on Sand Flat. However, we are waiting for the big battle between these two alpha bulls. Last year, Salvatore was alpha on Sand Flat and Rusty dominated Mirounga Beach. Who will take Sand Flat – the ultimate prize – this year? In other news, Don Quixote currently is holding Mirounga Beach, and Bogs is nursing his wounds on Mussel Flat.

We also have resighted 2 of last year’s weaners that survived their first difficult year at sea. This immature below was born on the marine terrace of Sand Flat last year, and has returned for the fall haulout.