History and present status of the northern elephant seal population

By: , and 
Edited by: B. J. Le Boeuf and R.M. Laws


  • The Publications Warehouse does not have links to digital versions of this publication at this time
  • Download citation as: RIS | Dublin Core


The northern elephant seal, Mirounga angustirostris , was presumed extinct by 1892 owing primarily to commercial harvesting for their blubber oil that began in the early 1800s. A small, residual breeding colony survived, however, and with legal protection from further hunting, it grew rapidly through the early 1900s. Immigrants steadily colonized other island and mainland sites in Baja California and California so that by 1991 seals were breeding on fifteen islands and at three mainland beaches. Sixty-four percent of 28,164 northern elephant seal pups born in 1991 were produced on two southern California Channel Islands, San Miguel and San Nicolas. The entire elephant seal population was estimated to number around 127,000 in 1991 and was apparently still increasing by more than 6% annually. The remarkable demographic vitality and sustained population increase of northern elephant seals has evidently been unaffected by the species' low genetic variability and contrasts with recent declines of some populations of the more genetically polymorphic southern elephant seal, M. leonina .

Study Area

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title History and present status of the northern elephant seal population
Chapter 2
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher University of California Press
Publisher location Berkeley, CA
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 20 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Elephant seals: population ecology, behavior, and physiology.
First page 29
Last page 48
Country Mexico, United States
State Baja California, California
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details