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Southern Elephant Seal


Scientific Name:
Mirounga leonina
Length:
2.7-6.2 m (8.8-20.3 ft)
Weight:
500-4,000 kg (1,102-8,818 lbs)
Status:
good to go
Prey:
Squid and fish

Physical characteristics

Range in color from dark gray to brown with lighter coloring on the chest. Characterized by elephant-like noses.

Behavioral characterization

Live in open water for most of the year, diving to an average depth of 300-600 m for about 22 minutes at a time to feed.

Distribution

Found around the subantarctic islands. Some found in New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.

Population size

600,000

Predators

Humans, killer whales, leopard seals

Migration/Dispersal patterns

Travel up to 2,000 km each way to their feeding grounds. Make this trip twice a year, once after breeding season and once after molting.

Social system/Group size

Found in large breeding colonies.

Major threats

Hunted by humans for oil. Possibly affected by climate change.

Research efforts

N/A

Fun fact

The most extreme recorded dive by a Southern elephant seal was to a depth of 2,000 m for 2 hours.