Time to call the carpenter at Macca

Elephant seal bull vs carpenter

It’s October and Macquarie Island is overflowing with elephant seals. A daily walk on either side of the Isthmus is all about the births, deaths and baby barks of elephant seal pups. We marvel at how the furry black pups may one day grow into the giant beach masters currently fighting for turf.

Our weekly census counts have commenced, with more than 200 cows and pups on the east coast and more than 500 on the west coast. These figures will grow each day and we’ll keep you posted on how the numbers stack up.

And then there are the bulls. We don’t count them in the census but as the breeding period ramps up, we see the competition for the harems increasing. We witness the constant pushing and shoving and at times, blood drenched fighting between bulls and beach masters.

During the breeding season the bulls will not leave their territory to find food. Instead, they stay on the island relying on blubber reserves, and use their size and weight to wrestle for territory.

When an elephant seal bull, possibly weighing up to three tonnes, lumbers around the station to avoid a competitor, the fences and gates at Macca really don’t stand a chance. 

Until next time,

Kat, Station Leader