This insane video shows what happens during an elephant seal attack! The absolutely massive male seal weighs a whopping 4,500 pounds. He throws that weight into cars and trucks parked near a beach in New Zealand. The narrator calls the seal Homer and explains that he is 15 feet long. The huge animal slams his body into the vehicles over and over. People run in the opposite direction, terrified. What on Earth makes him act like this?
Watch the Incredible Elephant Seal Attack Below!
Let’s find out what causes this elephant seal attack and more about this species!
Do Elephant Seals Attack Humans?
They sure do! The males of this species are extremely aggressive during mating season. Females aggressively protect their young.
Adult males are called bulls, while adult females are called cows. Anything or anyone that gets in the way of a bull and his harem better be prepared for a fight. That includes humans! There have also been reports of elephant seals attacking and ferociously biting divers who get too comfortable with the wild animals while scuba diving. Another report states a young elephant seal male attacked a dog in California in 2007. The same seal killed over a dozen harbor seals in the area during its time there.
Fights Between Males
A harem consists of a group of as many as 50 cows, and the bull intends to keep them all to himself. If an elephant seal bull approaches another’s territory or harem, the defending male launches an attack. Sometimes, this is just loud bellowing or trumpeting through their huge, floppy nose (proboscis). They also stand tall and show off their size to scare the intruder away. If the trespassing bull doesn’t back down, there will be a fight.
The bulls use their long, sharp canine teeth to scrape the neck of their opponent while slamming their enormous weight into them. Although they rarely fight to the death, a battle leaves both parties bloody and injured. Large bulls, like Homer, usually have many scars around their neck and chest.
The largest elephant seal bull ever recorded weighed an estimated 11,000 pounds! For reference, the average weight of a pickup truck is 4,000-7,000 pounds.
Even though the babies (or calves/pups) are quite cute and will likely be curious about you, you should never approach them or any wild animal. Mother elephant seals will attack if their baby is threatened. Even a warning bite from an elephant seal is strong enough to break human bones! They can also carry zoonotic diseases (or diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans).
How Intelligent Are Elephant Seals?
Due to their enormous size and brute strength, you might think these marine mammals aren’t very smart. On the contrary, they are quite intelligent. They recognize one another by the sounds they make. They know the rhythm and pitch of their colony members. Newborns and mothers learn each other’s sounds right away, just in case they become separated. This helps them find one another among the massive groups that gather on the beaches.
Where Do Elephant Seals Sleep?
Now we know that elephant seals attack one another over breeding rights, let’s learn some interesting facts about them.
Did you know elephant seals also have a superpower? Even though they must breathe oxygen to live, they can sleep underwater! According to a study by the University of Oxford, these incredible creatures can dive several thousand feet into the depths of the ocean and fall asleep while they do it. The most amazing part is their brain will wake them up with plenty of time to get back to the surface without running out of oxygen. Scientists find this behavior astonishing. The seals fall into a truly deep sleep and begin spinning down into the ocean. This behavior is called sleep spiraling. Sometimes, they even hit the bottom without waking up! While out at sea, these creatures only sleep about two hours a day.
When they arrive at the breeding grounds (or rookery), they will not eat the entire time. This trip to shore is all about producing the next generation. They do spend much of this time catching up on sleep, up to 10 hours a day!
Elephant seals are also champion divers. The longest recorded dive by this species was two hours. They can dive up to a mile deep into the ocean. These seals are truly magnificent!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jan Roletto - Public Domain
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