leopard seal

10 Lively Facts about Leopard Seals

Leopard seals may be among the cutest animals on the planet, but they are also incredibly strong, fast, and carnivorous! Simply put, you don’t want to be locked in a tank with a hungry one alone! Here are some seriously fun facts about leopard seals.

1. What is a leopard seal, anyway?

While it may live *Under the sea* (insert singing crab here), leopard seals are not fish, but carnivorous mammals! They are also known as sea leopards.

2. They have a varied, meaty diet.

As cute and cuddly as they may seem, leopard seals are predators in the water! Their incredibly sharp teeth and powerful jaws allow them to successfully munch on seabirds, fish, penguins, shellfish, and more! In fact, they have even been known to eat other seals.

3. They’re on the prowl!

Naturally, these incredible mammals are agile and very quick in the water, but they’re also adept at hunting down dinner! They stalk their prey by patiently waiting by the edge of ice shelves. When the opportunity presents itself, they strike!

leopard seal teeth

4. You’re pretty much safe.

Don’t worry about a leopard seal coming to eat you, as they prefer very cold water! They live in the icy cold waters of the Antarctic.

5. Leopard seal lifespans are fairly impressive.

A healthy leopard seal can live between 12 to 15 years! However, they, too, have to be pretty wary of predators, as they are some of the favorite snacks of killer whales. They’re more likely to live for longer in captivity than in the wild.

6. Let’s crunch some leopard seal numbers!

Leopard seals can reach a size of up to about 8 to 12 feet in length. They can weigh up to 1300 lbs, and they can reach a top speed of up to 40 kilometers per hour! They’re bulky yet speedy when they need to be!

7. Women lead the way!

Female leopard seals happen to be bigger than the males of the species in general. The species itself is the second largest species of seal, and the females can sometimes even reach the size of a walrus!

8. They’re a protected species,

Leopard seals are currently a protected species as a result of threats to their population. They are under protection laws from overhunting, and in an effort to help save their home. There are currently between 250,000 and 400,000 leopard seals left in the world.

9. Did they borrow mating inspiration from the movies?!

If you have ever seen the film “Happy Feet”, then you will have seen animated penguins use some serious moves and vocal performances to attract their desired partners. Well, that’s not too far-fetched for leopard seals! In fact, each male leopard seal has its own distinct song that it uses to attract females!

10. Do leopard seals get on well with people…?

Although there have been reported leopard seals and human encounters that have not ended too well, either due to the humans hunting or the leopard seals being territorial, there have also been accounts of them getting on famously!

In fact, nature photographer Paul Nicklen was working when a leopard seal started to bring him dead and even live, injured penguins! It is believed that the leopard seal was trying to feed the human – much appreciated, but unnecessary, we’re sure!

leopard seal on ice

FAQs about Leopard Seals

Has a leopard seal ever attacked a human?

There have been encounters between humans and leopard seals where the latter have indeed attacked the former. However, these are very rare cases, and many encounters have been far more pleasant! They’ll only attack you if you pose a genuine threat.

How strong is a leopard seal’s bite?

A leopard seal’s jaw can open up to 160 degrees wide! Then, it will bite down with such a force that it can easily tear into flesh - making it easy for these fearsome beasts to hunt penguins, other seals, and a variety of moving meals.

How aggressive are leopard seals?

Leopard seals are known for being among the most aggressive of their species on the planet. They are very solitary animals, often found alone and avoiding packs. That being said, they have also shown signs of kindness and even loyalty!

Further reading:

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This page was last modified on July 28, 2023. Suggest an edit

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