The elephant seal colony at Pietras Blancas beach is a very busy place during December and January as the mothers are giving birth at the beginning of that time period and mating near the end. The males arrive in late October and the sub-adult males arrive late November/early December.
These two males have just reached the start of puberty, indicated by the slight growth at the end of their noses. When they finally reach adulthood, their noses can be as long as two feet.
The adolescent males practice fighting in order to prepare themselves for the day when they will have to battle for their harem of females on the beach. Very rarely are these mock battles or even the real ones fatal. Although once in a while a male may break a jaw or lose and eye which can hinder their chances for survival.
During their active months on the beach, you can see this behavior all of the time. I had to wait until the rest of the frame was clear of distractions and the water wasn’t covering them. Again, patients pays off in nature photography.
If you want more information on elephant seals, visit the Friends of Elephant Seals website.