The southern elephant seal is the largest seal, with males weighing around 3.5 tons and measuring up to 5.5 meters, whereas females are smaller, at 900 kg and less than 3 meters long. Elephant seals breed primarily on sub-Antarctic islands and in Peninsula Valdes and adjacent coastal sectors, which is the only continental breeding area outside Antarctica, and one of the largest. The animals breeding in Valdes feed in the productive areas of the continental shelf, its edge and slopes and the deep-water species in the region.
Elephant seals overlap spatially with large-scale commercial fisheries, which have direct negative impacts on their food availability. In addition, elephant seals frequently get entangled in fishing gear and die as a result. Inshore along the coast, human disturbance of elephant seal colonies might cause offspring mortality.
Complementary to our work on other marine species, we support the creation of marine and coastal protected areas that benefit this species throughout Patagonia. In addition, we use satellite technology and on-the-ground assessments to monitor the breeding colonies of southern elephant seals on the Patagonian coast and at sea throughout the year.