Crittercam: Elephant Seal

  • Something strange is happening to elephant seals along California's coast. Each year, half of the seal pups disappear, and what happens to them is a mystery.

    Have these creatures become powerful magnets for predators? Wild Chronicles and National Geographic's Crittercam® dive beneath the waves to solve this mysterious case.

    1. How many elephant seal pups survive their first year at sea?

      Only about half will survive.

    2. What animal is the main predator of elephant seals in California?

      Great white sharks prey on elephant seals off the California coast.

    3. How does Peter, the shark expert, track great white sharks?

      Peter hides a tiny radio transmitter in a piece of meat. The shark eats the meat, and the transmitter emits signals from the shark's belly, wherever it swims.

    4. What behaviors do elephant seals use to avoid sharks?

      In the "danger zone," elephant seals swim faster, swim near the ocean floor, and minimize their time on the surface.

    5. Why do great white sharks prey on elephant seal pups?

      Pups have not yet learned the survival tactics of adult elephant seals—to swim very fast, and very deep.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    coast Noun

    edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: coast
    Crittercam Noun

    camera designed to be worn on a wild animal, providing a "critter-eye view" of the animal's environment.

    elephant seal Noun

    marine mammal native to parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.

    predator Noun

    animal that hunts other animals for food.

    wave Noun

    moving swell on the surface of water.