Thursday, June 10, 2010

Deformed flippers

This seal was photographed in May by Jim Siler, another docent. She hasn't been seen since, although the USGS biologist has asked to be called if anyone does see her.

Her rear flippers appear to be deformed. Elephant Seal researcher Burney LeBoeuf says, "I agree; they look deformed to me too. If you see enough seals (or any critter) you will observe all kinds of anomalies. I’ve seen a male elephant seal (?) with no penile opening, females with multiple teats, a male that vocalized with its mouth closed (producing a ventriloquial effect) and more.

The deformed one looks healthy, though."

Thanks for your informed opinion, Burney. She does look very plump and well. The seals always amaze me with how well they can manage difficult situations. Their flippers are important to swimming and diving, where they catch their food. This girl has found ways to survive and thrive. with much less than her cohorts. She is an inspiration to us all.

This is another advantage of having docents on the bluff at least six hours a day, every day. Many pairs of eyes will see the unusual and even unique that find their way to the beach.

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