Southern Elephant Seal
Southern Elephant Seal

Southern Elephant Seal

Nothing can prepare you for the astonishing size of these amazing creatures!

Our Expert Says… "Rather than collecting harems as some people think, male Elephant seals are fighting over who controls the best bit of the beach as far as the females are concerned! This is because the females come into season a short time after their pups are weaned and those that are in "his patch" will be ready to accept his advances."

Southern Elephant Seals are a remarkable sight! The adult males can grow up to 5.7m (19ft) in length and weigh in at over 3,600kg (8,000lb)! The females, while still enormous by most standards, are dwarfed by these huge bulls, even though they themselves can be over 2.7m (9ft) long and weigh up to 860kg (1,900lb).

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Southern Elephant Seal

Highlights where the Southern Elephant Seal can be seen

Elephant Island

Elephant Island is one of the outermost of the South Shetland Islands. The roots of its name are argued to be one of two reasons. Either the fact that Elephant seals were seen hauled out here in large numbers by the first person to discover and map the island, Captain George Powell in 1821, or that the island’s shape is uncannily like that of a baby elephant’s head with trunk extended! The island remained unexplored for many years thanks in part to its lack of resources (just small numbers of seals and penguins and no native plants) and partly because of its steep volcanic rocks, presenting few landing points. However, in 1916 Elephant Island became immortalized as the scene of the beyond-all-odds survival story that was Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition. After their ship Endurance was lost to the treacherous ice in the Weddell Sea, the 28 crew were forced to make a perilous escape attempt. After months in open boats and stuck on drifting ice sheets, the team arrived at Elephant Island. Here they set up a base to stay while Shackleton and five members of his crew set sail in an open lifeboat for South Georgia - a journey of over 800 miles - to seek a rescue ship. This stunning tale of endurance, determination, and the human spirit is brought home to visitors to Elephant Island by the Endurance Memorial at Point Wild. You can also see breathtaking views of the Endurance Glacier - named after Shackleton’s lost ship - as well as the stunning rocky terrain and its gentoo penguins and seals.

Mawson’s Huts and Cape Denison

Cape Denison is at the eastern edge of the Australian Antarctic Territory at the head of Commonwealth Bay. The peninsula is mostly free of ice and made up of a series of rocky valleys and ridges. The importance of the Cape to Antarctic human history lies in the collection of buildings known as Mawson’s Huts. These were built and lived-in during an Australian Antarctic Expedition that ran from 1911 to 1914, led by the explorer and geologist Sir Douglas Mawson. The huts that now bear his name are very rare, being only one of six sites that still remain from the so-called “heroic era” of Antarctic exploration. There are several buildings that were constructed to house scientific instruments, including taking magnetic readings and astronomical observations. There was also a radio hut - the first time radio transmission was used in the Antarctic. The main hut at Cape Denison has undergone some preservation work but snowfall can still often get inside. Because of the delicate nature of the hut, only 4 people at any time are allowed inside. There you can find an amazing time capsule from the early 20th century, including the cast-iron stove, bottles, jars, cans, and other everyday items. Some of the storage shelves have the names of the men who placed their belongings there written on them with the date - still legible after 120 years. Apart from Mawson’s Huts, Cape Denison is a popular spot for breeding wildlife. Weddell seals can often be seen with pups during the breeding season, and there are also bird colonies including skuas, petrels, and penguins.

Our trips to spot the Southern Elephant Seal

Price
Minimum Price

USD 4400

Maximum Price

USD 18000

Duration (days)
Minimum Days

5

Maximum Days

26

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