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Gentle Giant: Elephant Seal Shares Affectionate Moment with One of His 100 Female Mates.




From scented candles to soothing music, or fancy food and expensive wine – we all rely on different things to get us in the mood for a romantic night.

So spare a thought for this female bull seal, who has been pictured face down in the damp sand of Gold Harbour Beach, in South Georgia, while her four-tonne mate clambers on top of her.

Weighing just one tonne herself, she is unable to escape his amorous intentions, though judging from her less-than-impressed facial expression, his advances are not exactly welcome.

She is just one of 100 mates that the ‘beach master’ – the name for the dominant alpha male seal – has to choose from, mating with each one in turn, with each session lasting up to half an hour.

Do I have to? A female seal looks less than impressed as her four-tonne mate clambers on top during mating season on Gold Harbour Beach, South Georgia, which is home to a large colony of elephant seals

Mr lover lover: Male elephant seals are the largest of all seal species, weighing four tonnes – while their female mates tip the scales at just one tonne, meaning it is difficult for to resist their amorous advances

Hands off: Each male elephant seal coMMAnds a harem of up to 100 females in well-defined territories on the beach, and will spend the breeding season fighting off challengers – using tusks to claw at each other’s necks

Gold Harbour, which sits in the southern Atlantic Ocean between South America and Antarctica, is also home to King Penguins, which can be seen in the background of these pictures.

While the elephant seal treats himself to a harem of ladies, mating habits of the penguins could not be more different, as they spend each mating season with a single female, and many may mate for life.

These elephant seals, the largest of all seal species, will have spent the winter in the frigid waters close to Antarctica, hunting the fish and squid that live there, and will have returned to the coast of Gold Harbour to mate.

Protection: A male elephant seal fresh from a fight cuddles up to one of his women on Gold Harbour Beach. The seals will spend the winter in the waters near the Antarctic pack ice hunting for fish and squid, then return to land to breed

Breeding ground: Gold harbour, situated between South America and Antarctica in the South Pacific Ocean, is also home to large numbers of King Penguins – but unlike the seals, these Animals will have only one mate per breeding season – and may mate for life

Practice makes perfect: These seal pups play fight with one another on Gold Harbour Beach in preparation for one day having to defend a harem of their own during breeding season

Each male defines a territory filled with females on the beach, and then spends the rest of the mating season fighting to defend them from other men who will try and add them to his collection.

The males will use their huge bulks to smash into one-another, employing their sharp teeth to rip at the throats and face of the other males. Often the females will get caught up in these confrontations, as seems to be the case here, as the female seal’s back is bleeding.

These pictures were captured by photographer David Merron, 38, who visited the British Island where tourism is tightly controlled. Only 100 people are allowed on to the small island at any one time in order to preserve the natural habitat.

Overlooked by the Bertrab Glacier, the beach is also home to gentoo penguins and fur seals, while albatross are known to roost in the cliffs nearby.

Beach master: A huge male elephant seal, or ‘beach master’ as they are sometimes known, will have a harem of up to 100 females and will mate with each one in turn, with each session lasting up to half an hour

Sea giants: Despite their huge bulk, elephant seals are actually named for the ‘trunk’ on their nose, which is actually a huge iNFLatable bag of skin which is used during mating and fighting rituals

Epic: Overlooked by the Bertrab Glacier (top), Glad Harbour Beach is teeming with wildlife, and access is strictly prohibited – only 100 people are allowed on the island at any one time and are placed into groups of 20 with a guide

MASSIVE male elephant seal plays kiss chase (related)