I seem to have lost this batch of photos, but fortunately reader Loren Russell re-sent them the other day. His notes:
The pix were taken on a trip from Corvallis to LA along Cal 1. This is the rookery at Piedras Blancas, just south of the Sur Coast. A wonderous case of back from near extinction, the Northern Elephant Seal [Mirounga angustirostris] was reduced to (?a few dozen?) by whalers in the early 20th century. This particular rookery dates only to 1990 and is estimated to have reached 15,000 Famously, one several-ton male was aggressively blocking traffic on Route 1 for several weeks a couple of years ago.
Here’s their range. Dark blue represents breeding colonies and light blue the occurrence of non-breeding individuals:
And, a picture from Wikipedia showing the extreme sexual dimorphism in size: males can weigh between 1500 and 2300 kg ((3,300–5,100 lb; over two tons! That’s more than a Volkswagen Beetle), while the smaller females can weigh between 400 to 900 kg (880 to 1,980 lb). The males have harems and battle for access females; this huge male is mating with a female who has a pup. (Males can easily crush the pups if they roll on them.)
Here’s a video of battles for females between Northern Elephant Seals; such battles can result in death: