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Possibly the strangest looking marine mammal that can be seen on our tours is the Northern elephant seal. Its strangeness stems from its giant proboscis (nose) that is found on the males.  This enlarged nose is what gives them their common name, as it looks akin to the trunk of an elephant. They use this flabby appendage to make extraordinarily loud roaring noises. This species shows huge size discrepancies between the males and females, known as sexual dimorphism. While the females can only reach sizes of approximately 1900 pounds and 3.6 m in length the males dwarf them in comparison, reaching over 5000 pounds in weight and 5m in length. These interesting looking mammals have a range from Baja California, Mexico up to the Gulf of Alaska. While seeing these giant mammals in Victoria’s water is rare, we have been lucky that a small breeding colony has been established at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. This represents the most northerly breeding colony on the Pacific Coast! These funny-looking mammals can be seen December through to April and less frequently through the summer months. A less-known fact of the northern elephant seal is what proficient divers they are. In 2012, marine biologists tracked a female while she dove in search of squid to eat. She dove to the impressive depth of 5788 feet! Elephant seals can keep themselves emerged for up to two hours at a time, impressive!

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