In 1880, people thought they were all extinct from hunting, but a few survived on an island off the coast of Mexico. The elephant seal population today is 150,000 and still growing! This only happened after Mexico and the US declared no tampering, harassing or hunting elephant seals.
The male seals grow up to 14 feet long and have big flaps over their noses. Females grow up to 12 feet long and have no flaps over their noses. The ones I saw were females and pups. They were molting, lying in the sand, throwing sand on themselves so they didn't get sunburned and barking at each other. We were driving up highway one after we had a brief visit at Hearst Castle and pulled over to the side of the road and looked out to the the beach and saw hundreds or thousands of elephant seals lying on the beach. Some were in the water and some were just lazing in the sand. They were so cute, some looked like they were smiling, especially one who was nuzzling her nose in the sand. She's the one in the picture in the photo section of my blog.
If you want to find out more, go to ElephantSeal.org.