elephant of the sea

Why is biodiversity important to national marine sanctuaries?

“Biodiversity” refers to the variety of different types of species in a given ecosystem. Many national marine sanctuaries support enormous biodiversity. By protecting these ecosystems, we can ensure they thrive for future generations.

This elephant seal knows and will shout it out loud: biodiversity is an important and essential part of the National Marine Sanctuary System!

Transcript beneath the cut.

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Celebrate Wildlife Wednesday with Elephant Seals from California’s Piedras Blancas! 

The Piedras Blancas Light Station is a historic landmark on California’s central coast. Located on a rugged windswept point of land 6 miles north of Hearst Castle along California’s scenic Highway One, the Lighthouse was first illuminated in 1875, and today beckons the visitor a respite from the modern world.

The Light Station is named for the distinctive white rocks that loom just offshore. These rocks, and the rugged shoreline, are home to seabirds, sea lions, and elephant seals. Over 70 native plant species can be found on the 19 acres surrounding the Light Station.

The beaches stretching north and south from the Lighthouse have a large breeding colony of elephant seals.    

Photos and video footage by Bob Wick, BLM. Video created by John Ciccarelli, BLM.

What’s the difference between seals & sea lions?

Is this curious animal a sea lion or a seal? What’s the difference, anyway?

It’s a sea lion! Here are some ways you can tell these two types of pinnipeds apart:

Any questions?


The Face of an Elephant Emerges from a Cliff in Iceland

Located on the coast of Iceland on the island Heimaey, the face of an elephant mysteriously appears. Created from natural rock formations, the mountainous shape is composed mainly of basalt rock, which oddly resemble the texture of an elephant’s skin. View more photographs of the stunning natural phenomenon on Flickr.

Fancy meeting you here! 

This northern elephant seal pops its head up from the water to say hello in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Located off the coast of California, the sanctuary is home to five species of pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), including northern elephant seals, northern fur seals, harbor seals, and California and Steller sea lions! 

(Photo: Peter Pyle/NOAA)