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An elephant seal bull looks toward the ocean from a beach.
News Update

How Deep Do Elephant Seals Dive? And Other Ocean Trivia

March 25, 2024
  • Behavior
  • Natural history

How well do you know your marine mammal facts? From elephant seal diving depth to humpback whale vocalizations, test your knowledge with this ocean trivia. Plus, see how you can be part of critical conservation efforts to protect these animals.  

Ready to dive in? Click “Show More+” to reveal the answer and more fun facts about the ocean and marine mammals.

A mother elephant seal and her pup rest together on a sandy beach.
photo © Brian Simuro

How deep do elephant seals dive?

Northern elephant seals can dive to depths of more than 5,000 feet and southern elephant seals to depths of nearly 7,000 feet. 

During these impressively deep dives, elephant seals can hold their breath for up to two hours. They spend most of their time in the open ocean, only coming to shore twice a year to breed and molt, or shed their fur. Visiting areas along the California coast offer spectacular views of northern elephant seals during peak haul-out seasons and year-round. 

Discover when and where to see elephant seals in California.

Do humpback whales vocalize or “sing” the same song? 

While the songs vocalized by humpback whales can change over the years, all males in a population sing the same song on a given year. 

Their songs can last for up to 20 minutes and cover many octaves and include frequencies beyond the threshold of human hearing. When a humpback whale is singing, it floats suspended in the water, head down and relatively motionless.

Learn about other ways whales communicate.

An underwater view of a humpback whale calf swimming below the ocean surface.
A newborn California sea lion pup rests on the sand close to its mother.

How long do California sea lion pups stay with their mother?

California sea lion pups stay with their mother for about a year as they nurse and learn important survival skills, like how to swim and forage for food.  

Sea lions return to their rookeries (or breeding beaches) in Southern and Central California each summer where females give birth to their 13- to 20-pound pups. This species breeds, births and weans simultaneously, which scientists call “synchronized reproduction.”

You can help the next animal in need when you adopt a past California sea lion patient.

Yes, I want to save a life!

Yes, I want to save a life!

You’ll be giving sick and injured animals the best possible care at the Center’s state-of-the-art hospital. With your gift today, you are giving a patient a second chance at life in the wild.

  • $35 You'll buy food for a hungry animal
  • $45 You'll provide life-saving medical care
  • $65 You'll make second chances possible

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Harbor Seal
Northern Elephant Seal
California Sea Lion
Humpback Whale