Scientific Name: Hydrurga leptonyx
Leopard Seal Description
With a size of about 11 feet and weighing close to 1,300 pounds, the Leopard Seal isn’t a creature that humans or other animals in the water want to come into contact with. This is the second largest type of seal in the world. They males do grow somewhat larger than the females but both of them are very large animals and a source to be reckoned with.
The Leopard Seal is easy enough to recognize in the water. They have black spots on their bodies. You will notice that these spots create a variety of patterns. They size and shape of them can be different on the various individuals as well. They are a dark gray in color as well. All of this allows them to easily blend into the water and that gives them the element of surprise when they are stalking prey.
Leopard Seals that live in the colder areas around Antarctica can also be white in color. This will allow them to easily blend into their surroundings. While they do spend the majority of their time in the water. They are amazing animals that seem to be one of the ultimate predators out there.
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Leopard Seal Anatomy
They have extremely strong and powerful bodies and that works to their advantage. They are able to move very quickly through the water and that helps them to find food. It also helps them to avoid their own predators. They feature front limbs that offer it the ability to move in the same way that a sea lion does. These front limbs as well as their back legs are very powerful.
They are the only species of seal to have a jaw which can open up 160 degrees. This makes it very simple for them to consume prey that is very large in size. They use their front teeth to tear off food and then they chew it with their back molars. Leopard Seals also have a great sense of smell and they can see well so those things also help them to very easily find their prey out there.
Leopard Seal Evolution
It is believed that the Leopard Seal once walked on land. However, fossil remains and DNA tests indicate that at some point they had to survive more and more in the water. As a result their bodies changed to give them the ability to do more in the water and to do less on land. Even so, these transformations still allow them to do well both on land and in the water.
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Leopard Seal Behavior
Most types of seals are very social but not the Leopard Seal. Instead they tend to be more involved with very small groups or they decide to spend their live alone. They do make sounds but they aren’t as vocal as the other colonies of seals out there. They are also very intelligent and curious creatures. They love to explore what is going on around them.
They aren’t an animal that is going to run when they see a person or other animals though. They are always willing to stand their ground and to protect their territory. They won’t attack humans though unless they have been provoked in some manner. It is hard to observe very much about the behaviors of the Leopard Seal though while it is in the water due to the risk of being too close to them.
Leopard Seal Habitat
Most of the Leopard Seals out there live in the Antarctic region. They are able to survive in the very cold waters and they also spend some time on the ice. This isn’t the only place that you will see them though. They can also live in warmer areas such as around Australia and New Zealand. They will go onto land in those areas.
Leopard Seal Feeding Habits
The Leopard Seals are very aggressive hunters but very good at getting their food sources. They will consume fish, shellfish, krill, and squid. What they will feed on depends on where they happen to be and the time of year that you are referring to. In the colder regions they will also consume other species of seals and penguins. They can be very brutal in their ways of removing the skin off these food sources too. They will beat them rapidly against the ice until the skin is removed and they can consume just the meat.
They take every opportunity though to consume what food they can get. This even included various types of birds that may land in their areas. They can jump several feet out of the water too in order get them if they aren’t actually landing but just flying over.
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Leopard Seal Reproduction
When it comes to the reproduction for the Leopard Seals, the males are very aggressive. They will make many sounds when they all gather so that they can attract a female. This is the time of year when you will find a large number of them in one location. That way they can have a large selection to choose from when it comes to their mates. Once they have agreed to mate the will move from land and into the water.
The males will go their own way once mating has taken place. The females will consume more food and start to prepare for the offspring to arrive. This involves digging for many months on the ground or even on the ice to make a hole for the young to be born into. They will dig as much as they can each day but they also need to make sure they are consuming enough food too.
The females are good at caring for the young Leopard Seals. This is a surprise to many due to the overall nature of these animals. The males often feel threatened by the young though and will try to kill them. They often find that the females are too much of a problem though for them to bother with going after the young.
Leopard Seal Predators
Even though the Leopard Seal is large and aggressive, they too have their share of predators out there in the water. They include various species of whales and sharks. They often put up and amazing fight though against these large predators.
The Leopard Seals have long had to deal with humans hunting them though. The fact that these are very dangerous animals has only intensified the thrill of the hunt for many people out there. Others simply want to rid the world of a creature that seems so difficult and so out to get people. This is a myth though as they don’t go hunting for humans!
The future for the Leopard Seal though is one that is uncertain. There are about 250,000 of them left in the world. Without effective forms of conservation on place though to protect them they are going to continue dropping in numbers. There are some groups out there that you can find online that are doing all they can. Yet there are many other animals that people would rather see protected and that can make this particular type of situation even more difficult.
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