Leopard Seal

by Reece Grundy

About the Seal

The carnivorous leopard seal [hydrurga leptonyx] is one of Antarctica's dominate predators.It gets its name from its black spotted coats.The Leopard seal can live up to 26 years.


The Leopard seal has a black spotted coat.It has a similar coat to the leopard but the seal has a grey not a golden colour coat.They have a long, slender body the widest point being their shoulders. They can grow up to between 3 to 3.5 metres long and can weigh up to 380kg!They have long flippers with sharp claws along the edge. Their jaw is wide and deep. They have 2.5cm sharp canine teeth.
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The leopard seal are found in Antarctic and sub-Antarcic waters. They are solitary, only coming together in small groups to breed.
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Before giving berth the female stocks up on food then going into a hole in pack ice. Between 8 to 9 months, 1 pup is born in the Antarctc Summer November to January. The pup is fed on fat rich milk which allows the pup to grow within a month it has moulted its first coat and ready to go out to sea.


Leopard seals only feed on other seals, pengiuns, birds, krill and squid. They catch penguins by grabing their feet, shaking them and then beating them against the sea surface.
Penguins vs. Leopard Seal


The only thing that feeds on the leopard seal is Antarctica's top predator the Orca whale.


The leopard seal uses its wiskers to feel and sense current changes for schools of fish in the dark murky waters. The use their streamline to prevent drag in the water and use their front and back flippers to propel themselves. They have two layers of fur one is short and close to their body to provide warmth for the seal the other is much longer which forms a outer waterproof layer. When they wash and groom the use their claws on the hind feet that stick out to scratch themselves when they bend their flippers. Seals with fur usually need to cool down as their coat is so effective to heat insulation. They do this by sticking up one of their hairless flippers that have a lot of blood vessels running through them witch allows the wind to go past their surface. The evaporation from the water cools the water and the blood running through it this is called thermoregulation. Looking directly backwards is a behavioural adaptation. They do this to look out all breeding season for any rival males trying to steal rock areas, rock pools and females. The males become really protective during the breeding season.
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5 Amazing Facts

1. The estimated population of leopard seals is 440 000 seals!
2.The leopard seal is the only seal to feed on other seals!
3. It takes as little 4 to 7 minutes for the leopard seal to consume a Adelie penguin!
4. Leopard seals have uniquely shaped cheek teeth that allow them to strain krill out of seawater!
5. An impressive hunter, a hungry leopard seal may burst through a spot of ice near a penguin rookery in an attempt to grasp a penguin chick above!