Baby Elephant Seal

I have come to appreciate God’s creation especially when it comes to the animals that He created and the ways in which babies grow up to become adults and then reproduce themselves.  One such case happened to be when we were visiting our friends in Freeland, Washington.  Freeland is on an island just off the coast next to Seattle and is about 50 miles long from one tip to the other.  On the north side of the island you can get over by bridge, but on the south you have to travel by ferry.

We rode on a 3+ hour ferry from Victoria, BC to the US mainland and had to go through customs which seemed to take forever.  Once on the mainland, we then drove 2 hours to Freeland where we stayed for a couple of days.  Don and Aggie are our age and are past the age of having more children, so we thought is strange that they were saying they had a new addition to their family.  Their children weren’t with them at the time so we didn’t think they were talking about a new grandchild.  Higgins is their dog and is 17 years old, so we knew they weren’t talking about a new puppy.

They took us to the back yard and up on a board walk next to the ocean and behold we found out what they were talking about.


It was a baby elephant seal.  He was born on the island with his mother and was about 75 pounds at birth.  She was there for 27-28 days to wean this pup and then took off.  She took off.  He was by himself (or herself I couldn’t tell nor would I have any knowledge of knowing).  She left him/her.  All alone.  To fend for himself.  Eating and sleeping alone.

I learned later as I read about elephant seals is that the mother leaves after weaning them because if they don’t leave, the babies become dependent upon the mother’s milk and will not hunt for themselves.  When the mother leaves, it forces the baby to begin hunting on her own and fending for herself.  After about 2-3 months the mother comes back and takes up connection with her baby after the baby has grown to 600-1000 pounds.

God has instilled within His creation innate skills for growing into adulthood.  Babies are designed to grow into adulthood and become independent of their parents.  It takes longer for humans to grow into adulthood than for baby elephant seals, but the process of becoming independent is essential no matter what the species.  Sometimes it would be helpful if human parents cut off the ties of dependency sooner so that children would be forced to grow up like the elephant seal.

As parents on this journey, we are called upon to cut the dependent ties and let our children become adults.  It’s never too late, but the later we try to cut, the more difficult it will be to create mature, independent, decision-making adults.  If we have strong willed children and we don’t cut the ties, they will through rebellion which becomes much more painful.  Good luck parents.

About James Gorton

I am happily married to Nadine, a person I've known for 20+ years. She and her late husband owned Airpark Auto Service where I took my car for years. Four years after my wife died we began dating and the rest is history. We have a blended family of 6 children between us and love visiting them across this country. We recently had our third grandchild between us. We love to hike, bike and ski. I am a psychologist and do relational life coaching for marriages and families primarily. I love what I do and never get tired of seeing marriages and families move to more healthy places in their lives. Five years ago my oldest daughter Deborah encouraged me to begin writing my thought into a blog I call my Jlog (Jim's log). I have become more and more passionate in connecting everyday experiences to spiritual truths. I hope that as you read my Jlog, you will gain insight into your personal life and experience true growth in your personal and relational life.
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