Home Marine Biology Leopard Seal: The King of Antarctica

Leopard Seal: The King of Antarctica

by Tijana

Leopard seal is also called sea leopard, or seal with small nails. It is mainly found in Antarctica. Its leopard name comes from the dark spots that cover its body, its power, its velocity, and its predatory ferocity. 

Leopard seal – basic information

The leopard seal is also called the sea leopard, or seal with small nails (Hydrurga leptonyx). It is a mammal of the phocids family. Females are larger than males, they can measure up to 3.80 meters and weigh up to 500kg, males rarely reach more than 300kg.

Its maximum age is 26 years. Its body is long and powerful, it has a large thorax. Its head is both slender and imposing with a long muzzle, a wide jaw and 16 teeth 2.5 cm long. At the tip of its hind limbs is a large caudal fin.

It is a loner, his social life is a bit mysterious for biologists, a recent study would have identified 300,000 individuals.

What do leopard seals eat?

It feeds on Krill but also on penguins, juvenile seals (crabeater or Wedell seals), sea lions, cetacean remains, and even birds, which it devours with impressive vivacity and reptile-like appearance. It is a ruthless hunter who practices different types of hunting, underwater pursuit (he can swim up to 30 km/hour), jumping on ice. He can jump up to 2 m in height. It seems that birds are its favorite food. It can eat up to 16 penguins a day.

Interesting facts

The gestation period is 9 to 10 months, the births take place between September and January, the males leave to hunt just after giving birth, the females and the young remain on the ice. It is fearful and very curious with divers and can quickly become aggressive, its powerful jaw can attack dive boats or fins. There have been a few accidents with divers or walkers on the pack ice. Its only predators are the killer whale and the white shark, so far it is not directly threatened by humans except by the melting ice.

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