Monday, February 21, 2011

First molt

All elephant seal pups are born with black coats, slightly curly. That's replaced in their first molt, after they are weaned. They get a brown and tan coat, more like the adults, dark on top and light underneath. It's a usual marine camouflage, making them blend into the background for predators. Their dark backs blend into the dark abyss for predators looking down on them from above, their light bellies into the bright surface for predators looking up at them from below.
This one shows the patches of dark skin peeling off, showing the brown coat beneath.
The black coat is also an indicator of maturity to Marine Mammal Center rescuers. Pups rescued before they molt get formula.

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