Elephant Seal – Clap-Threat


     At California’s Año Nuevo State Reserve this lone bull Elephant Seal had just awakened from a nap, raised his massive head, and belted forth a trumpet-like sound called a clap-threat … a sound reminiscent of a poorly-idling motor engine.   Its huge proboscis, or nose, serves a unique purpose especially during the breeding season.  The large, fleshy organ when inflated acts as a resonator for the grunts, bellows, and noises the adult males make while challenging each other.  This big fellow did not have a harem to maintain nor beach to defend, but was still in the mood to give forth his pugnacious invitation for a quarrel.  Elephant Seals were hunted mercilessly for their oil and blubber during the 1800’s and were nearly extirpated.  Today, these large seals have enjoyed a comeback and may readily be observed at places like Año Nuevo when they come ashore to breed and give birth to their pups.

~ Narrative and Elephant Seal capture, Clap-Threat © Jerry L. Ferrara