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Coos Bay
From docks to rocks, marine mammals grace the Oregon coastline
Coos Bay - North Bend - Charleston
Curry Pilot ImageRain or no rain, in the harbors or at one of the innumerable ocean coves and offshore rocks, visitors to America’s Wild Rivers Coast can see four main types of marine mammal, although they should keep their distance for the safety of everyone.

Harbor Seal

The harbor seal is one of the most commonly seen marine mammals along the Oregon and Northern California coastline.

Harbor seals can reach 6 feet in length, weigh up to 300 pounds and have spotted coats in a variety of shades from silver-gray to black or dark brown.
Their preferred haunts are beaches, docks and close-lying rocks. They are opportunistic feeders, living off a variety of fish and invertebrates and can dive up to 1,500 feet for up to 40 minutes. They spend about half their time in the water, sometimes even sleeping there.

The total harbor seal population in the eastern north Pacific is estimated at 330,000 and in California the estimated population is 40,000.

Northern Elephant Seal

The elephant seal got its name from a large nose that resembles an elephant’s trunk.

The northern elephant seal is the second-largest seal in the world with males getting as big as 13 feet and 4,500 pounds and females growing up to 10 feet in length and weighing in at 1,500 pounds.

The elephant seal spends only a little time on land, during breeding season. The rest of the time it lives nearly 5,000 miles off shore and commonly descends to 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface.

While in the open ocean the elephant seal spends the majority of its time underwater, diving for two hours at a time and rarely spending more than four minutes on the surface.

It is believed to eat deep-water, bottom-dwelling marine animals such as eels, rockfish and squid.

The typical way to see elephant seals is through a spotting scope or binoculars because they breed on offshore islands.

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