Marine Mammal Protection Act Tag

Steven T. Callan at the helm of the Fish and Game Patrol Boat Marlin

Those Amazing Elephant Seals

Steven T. Callan at the helm of the Fish and Game Patrol Boat Marlin

Author at the helm of the Fish and Game patrol boat Marlin, 1959. Photo by Wallace Callan

My first opportunity to see a northern elephant seal was in October of 1959, as an excited eleven-year-old passenger aboard the Fish and Game Patrol Boat Marlin. My father, California Fish and Game Warden Wally Callan, was the Marlin’s rookie boarding officer, responsible for patrolling California’s offshore waters from the Mexican border to Point Conception. The previous summer, he had returned from a patrol to San Nicolas and Santa Barbara Islands with tales of the massive elephant seals he had seen hauled up on some of the isolated beaches. I hoped to see those amazing creatures for myself on what was to be the ocean adventure of a lifetime.