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September 14, 2007

Waking an elephant seal: An existential portrait

Ever feel like this?

Ever feel like that? You've been poked, you know it's unacceptable. But you can't run after your tormentor because you don't have legs. You're just a pinniped at the mercy of bipeds. The outrage is already over by the time you even realize what happened. It can't be undone. It can't be avenged. But it's still UNACCEPTABLE. Roaring and flailing is absurd, but it's your only option. Inaction would be obscene.


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Or you can play dead until they come within the reach of your munching parts - then WHAM! CRUNCH!

This happened to me a lot in the cradle; some people seem to think there's nothing more amusing than poking and prodding an innocent baby, and undermining her trust (twenty years too soon) in a benevolent universe. Those same people don't seem aware that there are exceptionally brilliant minds who can both recall their infancy and cunningly plot revenge, over a period of decades, behind a facade of sisterly love and kindness. The day is coming soon when they'll be enlightened on all these counts.

As for that woman, I'd advise her to take care the next time she enters a natural body of water. Elephant seals, I hear tell, have long memories, and lots of friends, too.

Perhaps he wanted to avoid the indignity suffered by thousands of other elephant seals on the California coast: having biologists paint numbers on them with –I’m not kidding-Lady Clairol dye and bleach. It’s done very gingerly, with applicators mounted on long poles while they’re asleep.

He's still missing his bucket.

But you can't run after your tormentor because you don't have legs.

Elephant seals can hump themselves along pretty quickly. Think twice before you try to take that tempting bucket.

Cass, sounds like excellent training for living under a Republican gov't.

I've already watched this 2 dozen times. What's wrong with me?

Also, this is what I think goes on in Lou Dobbs' mind every time he hears that another illegal alien has crossed the border.

My dad and his colleagues used to paint their Rat Park rats with Lady Clairol! I didn't realize it worked on bigger, wetter game. It was the LC brand, too. I wonder if LC knows that it's the official brand of hairy mammal research.

God in heaven, if I was ever that close to something that big that could make a noise like that, I don't really think I'd ever stop running.

I wonder if LC knows that it's the official brand of hairy mammal research.

If I remember the story correctly, Burney LeBoeuf et al. at Univ. of Cal at Santa Cruz started by marking elephant seals with paint-soaked sponges on poles. The paint didn’t last long and they to slop it on pretty thick which would wake the beasts up. They asked LC for help, and LC came up with dyes that worked, which they donated the to the intrepid pinnipedologists at UCSC.

You can see the elephant seals up close at Ano Nuevo state park (about an hour south of San Francisco). Go during a wet and cold late winter – early spring day to see them when they’re numerous and active. If you’re lucky you’ll see a couple bulls do their best to kill each other.

> But you can't run after your tormentor
> because you don't have legs. You're just
> a pinniped at the mercy of bipeds.

My kid was just showing me a video last week of a pack of walruses _killing_ a /polar bear/. So I would be careful about poking those guys myself!


I've watched this like seven times now. Never. Gets. Old.

Actually, I'm told that the seal wasn't P.O.ed about being awakened. The story I got is that he was expressing his outrage that the "poker" was yet another attractive young lady yoked to an unbelievably heinous-looking fellow (i.e., the cameraman). I must say, I share his befuddlement. And I don't even have a 76-pound nose.

So is this the "extreme sport" version of cow tipping?

Clearly confusing John Lennon's walrus's "cucucachoo" ("googoo g'joob" on some readings/hearings) with "coochie coochie coo"
won't get you the seal of approval.

What Alan said. He'd have to turn around, but elephant seals are supposed to be able to outrun humans on sand.

At least in 1981, LeBoeuf and the gang were using "a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and Lady Clairol Ultra Blue" on the end of a long pole. You want an example of sheer noive: I have a photo of a researcher with what looks like a shorter pole with a funnel on the end and a vacuum gadget to take milk samples from a nursing female elephant seal. Well, they're smaller; still, the jealous local bull tends to come running when they holler.

And alwaye remember: The average super weaner is a double mother suckler.

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