Fun Southern Elephant Seal Facts For Kids

Oluniyi Akande
Nov 22, 2022 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed
Get to know more about this seal by reading these Southern Elephant Seal facts.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.6 Min

The Southern Elephant seal, Mirounga leonina as it is scientifically known, is also known as sea lions and belongs to the Phocidae family. Southern Elephant seals are found in Antarctic regions, or in Antarctica, Falkland Islands, and South Georgia.

The Southern Elephant seal habitat includes brutally cold waters which are rich in marine life as they get their food by feeding on bottom-dwelling fishes and squids.

The Southern Elephant seal bull is larger than the female Southern Elephant seals and the weight of these seals ranges from 882-8818 lb (400-4000 kg) while the Southern Elephant seal length can be up to 146 in (3700 mm). During the mating season, the male Southern Elephant seal defines and defends its territories and engages in fights.

There can be harems of these animals seen and the mating season also looks like a fighting season.

A Southern Elephant seal pup is born with fur and is black in color. It requires nursing for some time.

The Southern Elephant seal predators include leopard seals, sharks, and killer sharks. A Southern Elephant seal size comparison cannot be done with any other species as it is the largest species on the planet.

The Southern Elephant seal and human are not be seen as threats to each other until humans disturb these animals, and if these animals feel threatened they tend to move and roar and could harm humans.

These animals are quite fascinating to learn about! If you are interested, learn about the fur seal and harp seal too.

Southern Elephant Seal Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Southern Elephant Seal?

Southern Elephant seals are seals or pinnipeds.

What class of animal does a Southern Elephant Seal belong to?

Southern Elephant seals belong to the class of mammals.

How many Southern Elephant Seals are there in the world?

The most recent estimation states that there are around 650,000 of these seals.

Where does a Southern Elephant Seal live?

The population is found in sub-Antarctic and Antarctic regions, the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia.

What is a Southern Elephant Seal's habitat?

These seals live in extremely cold water in sub-Antarctic or near the Antarctic regions rich in marine population like fish, squid, and other animals. These animals breed on land but spend most of their time in the water.

Who do Southern Elephant Seals live with?

These animals are social animals and are found in groups or harems during the breeding season.

How long does a Southern Elephant Seal live?

The average lifespan of Southern Elephant seals is 21 years.

How do they reproduce?

As the breeding season arrives, males define and defend their territories. Groups or harems of females are collected. Males tend to fight and battle with each other for mating dominance.

This includes roaring, aggressive posturing, and violent battles. The gestation period lasts for about 11 months and then birth is given to a single pup and its nursing happens for almost a month. During suckling, females live off the energy stored in the reserves of their blubber.

What is their conservation status?

The status for this animal is Least Concern.

Southern Elephant Seal Fun Facts

What do Southern Elephant Seals look like?

The eyes of this seal are large, round, and black. Similar to other seals, these seals have hind limbs whose ends form the tail and the tail fin. The feet can deploy five long webbed fingers.

Pups are born with fur and their bodies are black in color and after molting, the coats turn gray or brown. The skin of older males looks leathery and is scarred. Female Southern Elephant seals are smaller in comparison to males.

The large and leathery body is what makes this seal different from others.

How cute are they?

These large animals are fun to watch when they move on land or when they come out of the water and are sometimes considered cute because of their acrobatic abilities.

How do they communicate?

Male Southern Elephant seals tend to challenge other seals by using their proboscises to make a loud gurgling or roaring noise. They tend to raise their hind fins to show off their size.

These seals also have a tendency to inspect each other and if they decide to fight, they will lunge at each other by opening their mouths. Losers let out high-pitched cries.

How big is a Southern Elephant Seal?

There exists sexual dimorphism in this species meaning that males are larger than females. The weight of males can range from 4,900-8,800 lb (2,200-4,000 kg)  while females weigh 880-1,980 lb (400-900 kg ) and could be up to 240 in (6096 mm) tall.

How fast can a Southern Elephant Seal move?

It can move at a speed of 3 mph (5 kph) on land or ground and swim at a speed of 3-6 mph (5-10 kph).

How much does a Southern Elephant Seal weigh?

These seals can be of a similar weight as a small truck or a cargo van. The weight of males can range from 4,900-8,800 lb (2,200-4,000 kg)  while females weigh 880-1,980 lb (400-900 kg ).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male is sometimes referred to as bull and there is no specific name for the females of the species.

What would you call a baby Southern Elephant Seal?

Baby Southern Elephant seals are called pups.

What do they eat?

The Southern Elephant seal diet is based exclusively on the sea and tends to eat fishes and squids. They hunt or capture the prey near the surface and deep underwater. They also eat bottom-dwelling fishes from the ocean's depth.

Are they dangerous?

It is believed that these sea lions can be dangerous. When they see an unfamiliar object around, they open their mouths and show their sharp teeth as a warning and if they feel threatened they will vocalize and advance and are capable of harming.

Would they make a good pet?

These seals are highly wild and cannot be kept as pets.

Did you know...

Southern Elephant seals are the largest species of seals on the planet.

Only 2-3% of elephant seals actually breed.

The seal population was hunted for their blubber during the sealing days. It was recorded that London alone used 20,000 t of elephant seal oil to light the city a year.

A record depth 0f 1430 m was attained by a female with a recording time of 120 mins underwater. This is the longest record.

While the status for these animals is Least Concern, it is protected by the Antarctic Treaty and the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals.

They are most numerous in the sub-Antarctic waters and on sub-Antarctic islands, they are found as far as north as the Falkland Islands and the Peninsula Valders at 42 degrees south.

It is believed that, while resting on the beaches, the seals don't eat and live off their blubber and do not also breathe to conserve water and energy.

Eighty percent of their lives are spent in the ocean.

They can cover a distance of around 60 mi a day when they head out to the sea.

The Northern Elephant seal and the Southern Elephant seals are quite similar in appearance. Both the species are loud and large, however, there are certain differences between the species. The first difference is the habitation range. Both species are found on opposite sides of the globe.

The second difference is the size. Southern Elephant seal size can be up to 8150 lb (3700 kg) while the Northern Elephant seal usually grows to about 5070 lb (2300 kg).

This animal is known for its diving abilities. These animals have been recorded diving up to 2,133 meters (7,000 ft).

The large eyes of the animal allow them to see in low-light areas.

This animal gets its name because of its size but mostly because of its large nose which is trunk-like similar to an elephant.

Why do Southern Elephant Seals have huge noses?

The male sea lions tend to possess secondary sexual traits such as the proboscis, this is an expansion of the nose that gets erected by muscular action which looks trunk-like. Due to this, they can make loud, hoarse, gurgling noise which is audible at great distances.

It is believed that these noises and huge noses help a male to defend its territories and fight and scare off other seals. Their huge noses are one of the reasons for their name.

How long can a Southern Elephant Seal hold its breath?

Southern Elephant seals are known to be amazing divers and females go very deep in search of food and can hold their breath for about two hours.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including leopard seal, or harbor seals.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Southern elephant seal coloring pages.

sub-antarctic and antarctic regions the falkland islands and south georgia

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

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Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed

Bachelor of Law

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Abdulqudus MojeedBachelor of Law

A versatile professional with a passion for creative writing and technology. Abdulqudus is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Law from the University of Lagos and has experience as a tutor, intern assistant, and volunteer. He possesses strong organizational skills and is a detail-oriented person.

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