Weddell Seals

(Leptonychotes weddellii)


Weddell Seals grow to be approximately 3m long and weighing around 400-500kg. Although males and females are the same size, the female seal may sometimes be larger. They are dappled with grey, black and white, with a silver-white coloured underbelly. Their head is small in relative to their plump, spindle shaped body with the muzzle being short, blunt and pale in colour. The average life span for a Weddell Seal in the wild is 30 years. The female Weddell Seal reaches maturityfrom about 3-6 years and the male at 7-8 years.


Weddell Seals breed form the fast ice right up to the shoreline Antarctica. They feed in inshore waters and have also been found on Antarctic islands that are seasonally ice free.


The Weddell Seal's diet varies with time (a bit like human's) but they mostly eat fish, squid , octopus and krill. They are very capable divers that can remain underwater for up to 45mins and reach depths of 720m in search of a meal. Weddell Seals have also been known to blow air cracks in the ice. This small tactic put small fish to flight, which the seal then endeavors.


Weddell Seals main predators are Orcas and Leopard Seals, but by swimming under the ice they can often avoid them.


Weddell Seals return to the same area each year, females of six years and over give birth in October to one pup a year. Mothers care for their pups for six weeks, by which time the pups have learnt to swim and haul-out of the water.
Both male and female Weddell Seals vocalise males do so to defend underwater territories during the breeding season.
The Weddell Seal pups are a golden-greyish colour and are absolutely adorable.


In Winter Weddell Seals move northward with the expansion of pack ice. Staying in the water to give a miss to blizzards, only occasionally poking their head through breathing holes in the ice.



Weddell Seals are noisy creatures underwater making a constant stream of noises, that can be heard from above the ice. They use these sounds for territorial defense.
They spend most of their time underwater. When they come to the surface to breath they use their teeth to chew and maintain breathing holes in the ice. This wears their teeth out.
When not breeding Weddell Seals are not particularly social, but will share the ice at comfortable distances.
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