Leopard seals are earless seals. They are known as “true” seals. They live in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions. They are insulated from freezing waters by a heavy layer of fat called blubber.
The leopard seal is slender with a comparatively long head and long sharp teeth. It is named for its gray, black-spotted coat. Seals reach a length of 12 feet and weigh up to 900 pounds.
They are famous for preying on penguins; but, their diet is actually highly varied and changes seasonally and is highly dependent on the local availability of prey. Leopard seals eat fish, krill, squid, penguins, birds, and even smaller seals.
- Leopard seals are related to other seals as well as walruses and sea lions.
- They are the second largest of all the seals.
- They have unique cheek teeth which help them strain prey out of seawater.
- The killer whale is their only known predator.
- Both on the ice and at sea, Leopard Seals are solitary creatures.
- On average, a leopard seal lives about 26 years.
Leopard seals can be ferocious when hunting. They are fast-moving and often catch their prey by surprise. The only time that leopard seals are seen in groups is during mating season.
Because they have so few predators, leopard seals are free to be for the most part. Their numbers are beginning to decline, so there are some conservation efforts to help protect the approximately 250,000 of them still left in the wild.