This is my photographic homage to Mother's Day. In today's photo a mother elephant seal and her young pup soak-in the warmth of the early morning sun on the beach at Piedras Blancas on the central California coast. This rookery dates back with certainty to only about 1990, when on November 25 fewer than two dozen elephant seals were counted in a small cove just south of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse. The first births at this location occurred in 1992 and there has been growth of the colony ever since.
Female elephant seals come ashore here from mid-December to mid-February. The first births can be as early as Christmas, but most occur in the latter half of January. Since this photo was taken on January 20 this year, it is likely that this pup may be only a few days old.
The pups gain weight feeding on the richest milk in the world of mammals. By the time they are weaned, they will have quadrupled their average birth weight of about 70 pounds. But they will lose up to one third of this over the next 8-10 weeks that they will spend teaching themselves to swim after their mother's have left.
This photo was taken with a Canon EOS 5D MkIII dSLR and a Nikon 600 mm lens at 1/1000 sec at f/8 and ISO 400.