Among pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) are second in size only to the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina). Male northern elephant seals can weigh over two tons and reach 14 feet in length, while females are much smaller, typically weighing just a bit more than half a ton and reaching perhaps 11 feet in length. The male in the photo above is attempting to mate with the much smaller female whose neck he has grabbed with his teeth. This photo was taken at Piedras Blancas on the central California coat in January, 2013.
Northern elephant seals follow a predictable annual breeding pattern. While spending most of their lives at sea, and with evidence that indicates that most of that time is spent beneath the surface on dives, they return to land to molt, give birth and mate. Along the central California coast the cycle begins in September and October when young-of-the year, and juveniles haul out to rest. They are followed in November by sub-adult males, with mature males arriving at the end of the month. Mature bulls continue their return during December along with the arrival of females. Pregnant females start giving birth by mid-month. The peak of birthing is usually in the last half of January. Mating reaches a peak in mid-February, and by March, all of the adults have left for the open sea. Molting (loss of the fur) occurs among the genders and age-classes from April through July. At this point Northern elephant seals shed their old fur coat for a fresh new one for the coming cold season
This photo was taken with a Canon 5D MkIII with a Nikon ED-IF 600mm D f/4.0 lens at 1/640 sec and ISO 400.