PICS: Rare Southern Elephant Seal sighting on Seal Island goes viral

2017-02-28 12:50 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - In a first-ever sighting for the highly popular Simon's Town Boat Company, a massive Southern Elephant Seal was spotted on Seal Island over the weekend - much to the excitement of onlookers. 

When approaching the island, passengers on the boat at first though the sighting to be a stranded whale, especially compared to the seals next to it! 

But photos snapped by Dave Hurwitz on Saturday, 25 February, show the enormous Elephant Seal lounging on the island amid the endemic Cape Fur seals. Elephant seals come ashore in Antarctica occasionally to rest or to mate, and are not often sighted as far north as South Africa. Hence, the sighting off the coast of SA in Simon's Town is indeed a rare one. 

The photos were posted to the official Simon's Town Boat Company Facebook page, from where they have been shared nearly 1 000 times. 

This is what the sighting looks like: 

"It clearly wanted some undisturbed rest and made that abundantly clear to the locals, who gave it a very wide berth," Simon's Town Boat Company wrote on Facebook.

The southern elephant seal is one of the two extant species of elephant seals. It is the largest seal species on earth, the largest Antarctic seal alive and the largest carnivore on earth today. An average adult male southern elephant seal weighs six to seven times more than the largest terrestrial carnivores. 

The seal gets its name from its great size and the large proboscis of the adult males, which is used to make extraordinarily loud roaring noises, especially during the mating season.   

Tracking studies have indicated the routes travelled by elephant seals, demonstrating their main feeding area is at the edge of the Antarctic continent. 

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