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Leopard Seals

Updated on August 29, 2014
Leopard Seal hunting
Leopard Seal hunting | Source

Leopard Seal facts

The leopard seal lives up to its name with it's ferocious attitude and diet of penguins and even other seals! This seal is the largest seal found in Antarctica, and is a solitary animal. The Leopard Seals population is between 250,000 and 800,000 but due to their solitary nature and isolated habitat it is difficult to estimate an accurate number. In this article I will discuss the leopard seals habitat, diet, behavior and breeding.

The Antarctica region is where this seal lives mostly but it has been known to swim north and can sometimes be seen around the coast of Australia, New Zealand and even South America along with other southern Pacific islands.

The diet of a Leopard Seal is a variety of other mammals, and even occasionally the pups of other seals. When they are young, Leopard Seal pups will eat a diet mostly made up of krill and as they get older their prey also gets bigger. They will eat anything from fish, squid and even sea birds, but it's favorite prey is the penguin. Leopard seals are quick and stealthy hunters underwater but on the ice they pose little threat to anything and can even sometimes be found lounging alongside penguins and other seals.
The seal will lay in wait to ambush penguins under sheets of ice. Once the penguin enters the water to hunt for it's own food, the Leopard Seal chases after it, and although penguins are quick and agile under water the Leopard Seal has no problem keeping up with it's twists and turns. Smaller penguins are swallowed whole while bigger ones are torn to shreds by the Seal thrashing its head from side to side.

The Leopard Seal spends most of it's time in the water but when it does come out it often rests on floating ice sheets and rarely on land. This seal is also known to attack humans when it feels threatened. They are known to jump out of the water and attack people hiking on the ice. The Leopard Seal moves quickly thanks to it's large front flippers and a muscular tail that it moves from side to side.

In the Antarctic summer months of November to January, the female seals will leave the water to give birth to their pups on floating ice sheets. While pregnant, the seal will eat a great amount more then normal to keep up her body fat content so she can fast after birth. When the pup is born it is about 75 lbs and 5 feet long and looks like a duplicate of the parent seal. The pup will gain weight rapidly off it's mothers milk but once it is able to swim it no longer feeds from the mother. After about two weeks the pup looses it's first coat and is ready to enter the water. Once the pup has stopped feeding from it's mother and is able to swim on it's own the mother will leave the pup to fend for itself. The pup then will feed off of krill before it learns how to catch fish and other small prey. The mother seal, after leaving the pup will immediately mate with a bull seal but won't become pregnant for about three months.

Now that we have talked in depth about Leopard Seals and their habitat, breeding, diet and behavior, here are some more interesting side facts about Leopard Seals:

  • Leopard Seals can get up to 12 feet long and weight up to 1,000 lbs but the females of this species are often times larger then the males.
  • They can live up to 26 years and reach sexual maturity at 6 years for females and 5 years for males.

Leopard Seal and Pup
Leopard Seal and Pup | Source


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