Juvenile Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris)
Santa Rosa Island
Channel Islands, California
This image received top honors at the 2013 North American Nature Photography Association's (NANPA) Annual Showcase with one of only six judge's choice awards presented at their summit in Jacksonville, Florida. This in turn placed it in the top 16 images selected from 2,400 entries.
It was also included in a beautiful presentation accompanied with classical music “Nature and Music: Jacksonville Symphony Celebrates Nature Photography” at the magnificent symphony hall.
Channel Islands National Park is one of North America’s magnificent treasures. I visited this gem off the California coast back in 2012 as part of a tour with The Sierra Club.
Like the Galapagos Islands, isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on earth and helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was. The park encompasses five of the eight California Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara) and their ocean environment. They are home to over 2,000 plant and animal species, of which 145 are found nowhere else in the world.
An extremely rich and diverse community of marine mammals is found on and around the Channel Islands. Many species of pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) and cetaceans (whales and dolphins) either breed on the islands or feed in the productive waters of the Santa Barbara Channel.
On Santa Rosa Island, we were transported ashore via a zodiac and upon landing, encountered a large number of northern elephant seals hauled out along the shore. The Northern Elephant Seal is an extraordinary marine mammal. It spends eight to ten months a year in the open ocean, diving 1000 to 5800 feet deep for periods of fifteen minutes to two hours, and migrating thousands of miles, twice a year, to its land based rookery for birthing, breeding, molting and rest. This female appeared to be enjoying a spring day in the sun, flipping sand over her body to stay cool.
OceanSandBeachMirounga angustirostrisJuvenileNorthern Elephant SealSanta Rosa IslandChannel IslandsCaliforniaWaterWildlifeNatureUnited StatesPinnipedFlippersMammal