Background Info

Something strange is happening to elephant seals along California's coast. Each year, half of the seal pups disappear, and what happens to them is a mystery. Have these creatures become powerful magnets for predators? Wild Chronicles and National Geographic's Crittercam® dive beneath the waves to solve this mysterious case.



How many elephant seal pups survive their first year at sea?

Show Answer

Only about half will survive.


What animal is the main predator of elephant seals in California?

Show Answer

Great white sharks prey on elephant seals off the California coast.


How does Peter, the shark expert, track great white sharks?

Show Answer

Peter hides a tiny radio transmitter in a piece of meat. The shark eats the meat, and the transmitter emits signals from the shark's belly, wherever it swims.


What behaviors do elephant seals use to avoid sharks?

Show Answer

In the "danger zone," elephant seals swim faster, swim near the ocean floor, and minimize their time on the surface.


Why do great white sharks prey on elephant seal pups?

Show Answer

Pups have not yet learned the survival tactics of adult elephant seals—to swim very fast, and very deep.

For Further Exploration


Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry



edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

Encyclopedic Entry: coast



camera designed to be worn on a wild animal, providing a "critter-eye view" of the animal's environment.

elephant seal


marine mammal native to parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.



animal that hunts other animals for food.



moving swell on the surface of water.


Media Credits

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Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society

Page Producer

Tom Kist

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