An elephant seal—normally seen in the waters of California's Central Coast and Channel Islands—briefly entertained passengers waiting to depart on the whale-watching vessel Voyager in Redondo Beach on Monday afternoon.
"(A) young elephant seal surprised us by surfacing right next to the Voyager's dock!" researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger wrote on the Facebook page for the American Cetacean Society's Los Angeles chapter. "It moved a bit away, looked at us briefly, turned away and submerged. Wow!"
Male northern elephant seals are the largest seals in the Northern Hemisphere. Fully grown males can grow to at least 13 feet long and weigh up to 4,400 pounds, while females grow about 10 feet long and weigh up to 1,300 pounds, according to the NOAA Office of Protected Resources.
Adult males are distinguished by the large proboscis—a large, inflatable nose. They use the proboscises to threaten other males during breeding season.
It's not known whether the elephant seal spotted in King Harbor was a male or female.
"This youngster looked like it was searching for a hand-out or free ride—so close that we could have reached out and touched it!" Schulman-Janiger wrote.