Seal fights are surprisingly violent during the breeding season.
In modern pop culture, seals have something of a sanitized reputation where they are portrayed as cute, cuddly, and lovable creatures. However, it turns out some seals can be downright mean, especially to one another. Such is the case with the northern elephant seal, also known as Mirounga angustirostris in scientific circles.
This guy has a face that only a mother could love and during the mating season, they get downright nasty to one another. Since they only have flippers and no arms, when two bull elephant seals fight, it is a brutal biting and shoving affair.
The sounds coming from these marine mammals are almost otherworldly while the female elephant seal can only look on and see who wins this brutal beach brawl and stands alone as the dominant male of this beach.
You may think an adult male elephant seal looks funny with that weird proboscis for a nose. However, one never wants to mess around with this animal since they can grow to lengths over 16 feet and can weigh more than 5,100 pounds. This was not even the most violent elephant seal fight we have ever seen. While they have a thick layer of blubber to protect them, alpha males regularly open huge gashes in their opponents that leave them bruised and bloody, unable to continue the fight. The dominant male northern elephant seal is usually called the "beachmaster."
There are two distinct species of elephant seal and both give other marine mammals like the sea lion and leopard seal a run for their money in the size and nastiness department. The southern elephant seal grows even larger than the northern variety, but it has a range in the southern hemisphere, mostly around Antarctica. Northern elephant seals live in the Pacific Ocean and are found all along the west coast of North America. They are a common sight in places like San Francisco, and Ano Nuevo State Park near Santa Cruz. Their range runs as far south as the Baja Peninsula up to the far north wilds of Alaska, where they sometimes tangle with polar bears.
One thing is for sure, we are never going to look at these seals the same way again after witnessing a brawl like that!