The Elephant Seal Chronicles.
Peninsula Valdes Travel Blog› entry 226 of 251 › view all entries
September 9th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
Our hotel on Punta Delgado is conveniently located near a beach where a large herd of Elephant Seals like to hang out during the month of September. Our timing couldn’t be better! After breakfast, a guide from the hotel took us and the two other guests to the beach. It was incredibly beautiful: sands, bluffs, cliffs… and the elephant seals, of course. From our height they looked like big lumps in the sand. They were so still that it took us some time to recognize that they were the animals we had come to see.
After admiring the view and getting some photos, we climbed down the bluff to a ridge above the beach… a perfect natural viewing area. The elephant seals lay like slugs across the sand. These guys really weren’t made for land travel, so they mostly just sleep.
On the right side of the beach was a male elephant seal with his small harem of four females. The male weighed about five tons, and the females were each about one ton. The male was feeling frisky and had his sights on a lovely lady who just wasn’t buying what he was selling. She tried to escape (scoot, scoot, rest) and off he went, in hot pursuit (scoot, jiggle, rest). The whole drama unfolded in slow motion, then the male finally managed to hop up on the poor little thing and gave her a big bite in the neck to hold her in place. How romantic.
In the middle of the beach was a dead elephant seal, partially decayed and smelling about as nice as you would expect.
On the fringes of the group, some smaller males waited, hoping to poach a female, and occasionally, a mini-fight would break out. The bigger guy always won, and the smaller one would scramble back to the water.
Our guide pointed out two of the seals that were rolling crazily on the beach and rocking up and down. We were lucky enough to see seals in labor! Seagulls were standing close by, and when the first baby finally came out they squabbled over the placenta, flying off with pieces of it. Gross! We couldn’t get a good look at the newborn pup because his mom was blocking him from our view, but then I caught a glimpse of his tired little head, and I witnessed his first little yelps. Like a puppy barking! It was so exciting, and touching. I can't even describe how happy and sad it made me feel.
Steve and I watched the Elephant Seal Chronicles for about three hours in the morning, and then I returned in the afternoon for another hour.
Later, I was in the room getting ready for our horseback ride, and Steve came storming in. “WHALES!!!!!” I grabbed my camera (unfortunately I had changed the lens to a short one) and we ran, ran, ran to the lookout point. Boy, am I ever out of shape. But I eventually got there and sure enough, they were several whales at play, and one even jumped out of the water! Oh, I wished I had my zoom lens on at that point.
As if the day hadn’t been wonderful enough already, it was then time for horseback riding. Honestly, after 10 minutes on a horse I always feel the same way: like I really want to get OFF.
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