Facts and Knowledge:
The leopard seal is the largest seal found in Antarctica. It preys mainly on penguins, wearing down it victims until they are too exhausted to escape the seal's powerful jaws. In the water the agile leopard seal is feared by penguins, for once the seal has sighted prey, it is relentless hunter. But on land the seal is clumsy and poses no threat to the penguins. It may even rest alongside them..
Behavior: The leopard seal lives in cold waters of the Antarctic; it is sometimes found as far north as southern South America and New Zealand. Spends most of its time in the sea, but when it does haul out, (leaves the sea) to rest, the seal does onto the ice pack, rarely o inland. The leopard seal propels itself by moving its tail side to side, and it steers with its long front flippers. These flippers enable it to change direction quickly, an asset when chasing fast moving prey.
Breeding: Antarctic summers are from November to January. At this time the female leopard seal hauls out (leaves the water) on to the ice pack to bear her pup (newborn seal). At this time she eats a greater amount of food than normal to prepare herself for fasting after the birth. Unlike other seals that give birth in colonies, the leopard seal bears her young alone. WHen the pup is born it looks like a mall duplicate of its parent' it weighs about 57 pounds and is about 5 ft long. Feeding from its mothers rich milk, the pups gains weight rapidly. After about two weeks it is ready to molt (shed) its first coat and take to the sea. Once the pup can swim it no longer feeds form its mother, who then leaves the pup to fend for itself. The pup feeds on krill (shrimp like sea life) before learning to catch fish and larger prey. When the cow (female) returns to the sea, she mates immediately with a bull (male) seal. But the fertilized egg does not implant itself in the females womb for about three months nor does it develop at this time. This assures that the pup is born during the following summer when conditions for survival are more favorable.
Food & Hunting: The leopard seal is called a ferocious killer because it sometimes preys on its own kind and on the young of other seals. Its some what reptile like facial features also add to this undeserved reputation. Other seals form only a small population of its diet. Almost half of the leopard seal's diet is krill. It also eats fish, and squid or what ever i within reach, including seabirds. But penguins are its favorite prey. The seal waits underwater, watching the surface for penguins, then makes tits attack from below.... after catching a penguin, the seal shakes it violently while tearing off chunks of flesh. But penguins are excellent swimmers themselves and often escape.
Key Facts: Sizes, Weight, breeding, lifestyle, related Species
Length: Female 12 ft., male 10 ft
Weight: female, up to 900 lb., Males 600 lb.
Sexual maturity: Males 5 years, Females 6 years
Breeding season: November to January
No of young: usually 1 pup
Diet: Young eat krill, adults eat fish, squid, penguins, sea birds, shrimp, and young of other seal species.
Life span: 26 years
Related Species: The creditor seal, Lobodon
carcinphagus, and the gray seal, Halichoerus grypus.
Distribution: Around the fringes of the Antarctic ice pack; Heard, Kerquelen, and south Georgia Islands. Sometimes seen in southern parts of South America America. New Zealand, and Australia
Conservation: The leopard seal species is not endangered. But its natural curiosity sometimes brings it close to man, who too often responds to its fearsome looks by shooting.
Features of the Leopard Seal:
Coat: The leopard seals name comes from its spotted coat and its fierceness as a hunter.
Jaws: The leopard seal can open its jaws very wide, enabling it to catch large prey.
Did you know:
The leopard seal is one of the few species where the adult females larger than the male.
The leopard seal population is between 250,000 and 800,000. It is difficult to estimate accurately because the seals are solitary and live in remote places.
Leopards seals have been described as man-eater. This is not true; they have attacked only when provoked by man.
Only a few hundred seals eat other seals. Those that do are fully grown. Other seals account for less than 10 percent of the leopards diet.
A leopard seal was once found with 160 pounds of penguin in its stomach.
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