Another photograph of two male northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) “bulls” fighting on a central California beach. These two started their battle on the sand and eventually took it into the surf. Note how scarred their chests, necks and proboscis (noses) are, the result of years of fighting and biting and the consequent, almost continuous, series of wounds they bear during the winter mating season.
Male elephant seals (bulls) rear up on their foreflippers and fight in the surf for access for mating females that are in estrous. Such fighting among elephant seals can take place on the beach or in the water. They bite and tear at each other on the neck and shoulders, drawing blood and creating scars on the tough hides.
Image ID: 20369
Species: Elephant seal, Mirounga angustirostris
Location: Piedras Blancas, San Simeon, California, USA
Male elephant seals haul out of the ocean and establish territories on the beach in December, in advance of females who arrive a few weeks later and among whom they form large harems. Throughout the birthing and mating season, which extends through March, males will fight among themselves to maintain or expand their territory and ward off other males who might mate with the females in their harem. Younger bachelor males without established territories will often try to “pick off” a female and mate with her if possible before the bull overseeing the harem notices. Fights like these are common, especially later in the season when most of the mating is done.