[9][10] The whiskers are short and clear. Male leopard seals take a little longer, typically reaching maturity between ages six and seven. Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) pups and seabirds other than penguins have also been taken as prey. The Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp cruise offers you a myriad of ways to explore and enjoy the Antarctic Region. They are also threatened by overfishing, which could potentially collapse the food chain. When a leopard seal has eaten but still wants to play, they may seek out penguins or young seals. The seals´ hunting is an activity that has been carried out by the settlers of Antarcticafor several years, and although many of them consider that their meat is only consumed by the inhabitants of such zones, there are studies that indicate that several countries also consume them. There are 18 species of true seals, according to Seals World. Scientists attach this device usually to the head of the animal and it records depth, bottom time, total dive time, date and time, surface time, haul out time, pitch and roll, and total number of dives. Scientists take blubber thickness, girth, weight, and length measurements of leopard seals to learn about their average weight, health, and population as a whole. More than 2/3 of them were wiped out in 1997 due to a type of virus. [4] Its canine teeth are 2.5 cm (1 in). The male leopard seal does not participate in taking care of the pup, and goes back to its solitary lifestyle after the breeding season. [22] Adult male leopard seals have only a few stylized calls, some are like bird or cricket-like trills yet others are low haunting moans. They have long bodies (10 to 11.5 feet) and elongated heads. Are elephant seals endangered? [7] The front teeth are sharp like those of other carnivores, but their molars lock together in a way that allows them to sieve krill from the water in the manner of the crabeater seal. However, it is known that their breeding system is polygynous, meaning that males mate with multiple females during the mating period. They also have incredible diving capabilities. A newborn pup weighs around 66 pounds and are usually with their mother for a month, before they are weaned off. The leopard seal is named for its black-spotted coat.The pattern is similar to that of the famous big cat, though the seal’s coat is gray rather than golden in color. In order to study leopard seals’ underwater bio-acoustics, underwater microphones (hydrophones) are placed around the pack ice where leopard seals spend most of their time in the summer. It is believed less than 600 of them have survived. Orcas (killer whales) are currently the only recognized predator of leopard seals. If you’re lucky enough to take an Antarctica cruise, make sure to keep your eyes on the ice floes. Leopard seals have unique cheek teeth that are shaped to allow them to strain krill from the water. The scientific name for the leopard seal is Hydruga leptonyx which literally translates as “small clawed water worker”. They have a body length between 2.5 and 3.2 m (8.25 - 10 ft) and they weigh between 200 and 455 Kgs (440 - 1,000 lbs). Their diets can vary, however, depending on their location and the availability of other prey. Leopard Seals have a fearsome reputation and they are the top predators in the Antarctic waters. One seal out there that really needs the help is the Mediterranean Monk Seal as it is critically endangered at this time. [34], When hunting penguins, the leopard seal patrols the waters near the edges of the ice, almost completely submerged, waiting for the birds to enter the ocean. Elephant seals are not endangered today, but like fur seals, they were once the target of sealers. Professor Boyd said that Leopard Seal attacks on humans were extremely rare but warned that they may potentially become more common due to increased human presence in Antarctica. The snow leopard is actually in a dangerous spot on the list, with dwindling numbers. Leopard seals are earless seals. Encyclopedia of Life. [5][6] The name hydrurga means "water worker" and leptonyx is the Greek for "small clawed". [28] Leopard seal pups mortality rate within the first year is close to 25%. Leopard seals might also hunt penguins, fish, and cephalopods. The expedition explores one of the last unt, JNS23-21 [31], The only natural predators of leopard seals are the killer whale and possibly the elephant seal. They also eat cephalopods, fish and other seal species, especially newly-weaned crabeater seals during December and January. Most human perceptions of leopard seals are shaped by historic encounters between humans and leopard seals, that have occurred since the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration. Krill meanwhile, is eaten by suction, and strained through the seal's teeth, allowing leopard seals to switch to different feeding styles. After breeding takes place, the implantation of the fertilized egg can be delayed by up to three months, ensuring the pup will be born in the spring or early summer when it is more likely to survive. Most commonly, they may eat crabeater seals, Weddell seals, and Antarctic fur seals. "Reproduction - Encyclopedia of Life". 32 cruises. It also has the distinction of being the rarest seal in American waters. And they're not exactly big teddy bears either, Leopard seals are as aggressive in nature as they are big in size. Female leopard seals are the first to reach sexual maturity, and they do so between the ages of three and seven. This layer of blubber also helps to streamline their body making them more hydrodynamic. The leopard seal is the only living species in the genus Hydrurga. As the penguin or seal swims to shore, the leopard seal will cut them off and chase them back into the water. However, attacks on humans are rare. As with many marine mammals, these activities are likely linked to acoustics, which we will discuss below. Such generalization and adaptations may be responsible for the seal's success in the challenging Antarctic ecosystem. The coat is counter-shaded with a silver to dark gray blend and a distinctive spotted "leopard" coloration pattern dorsally and a paler, white to light gray color ventrally. Higher densities of leopard seals are seen in the Western Antarctic than in other regions. Ross Sea, With this information we are able to calculate and better understand their diving physiology. [32] It feeds on a wide variety of creatures. Even so, it can be difficult for scientists to determine what exactly the seals are doing when they produce these vocalizations. helicopters, Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica, Antarctica - Discovery and learning voyage. We will visit the area via heli, Classic Antarctica including Deception Island, PLA24-21 Their vocalizations consist of “local calls” and long-distance “broadcast calls.” Since leopard seal population densities are low due to their solitary lifestyles, finding a mate can be difficult. Leopard seals can live up to 26 years in the wild. The leopard seal, also known as the 'sea leopard', is absolutely massive! The Hawaiian monk seal (Neomonachus schauinslandi), also known as 'llio holo I ka uaua (which translates into "the dog that runs in rough water", is among the most threatened and endangered mammals of the water world. It kills the swimming bird by grabbing the feet, then shaking the penguin vigorously and beating its body against the surface of the water repeatedly until the penguin is dead. This is essential when hunting small prey items such as penguins because speed is necessary. There doesn’t seem to be any point to this game, especially since the seals are expending great amounts of energy and may not even eat the animal, but scientists have speculated that this is distinctly for sport or for younger seals to sharpen their hunting skills. Mating occurs from December to January, shortly after the pups are weaned when the female seal is in estrus. Retrieved 2018-05-15. The leopard seal's habitat overlaps that of other seals. [11] In August 2018, an individual was sighted at Geraldton, on the west coast of Australia. Most recently, a marine biologist working with the British Antarctic Survey drowned after being dragged nearly 60 meters (200 feet) underwater by a leopard seal. Like their Mediterranean cousins halfway around the world, Hawaiian monk seals (M. schauinslandi) are also critically endangered. The Leopard Seal is the second largest of all seals out there. This continued until 1964, when their population had declined to the point that the industry was no longer economically viable. The leopard seal also referred to as the sea leopard, is the second largest species of seal in the Antarctic (after the southern elephant seal).. These seals swim so fast they can "jump" out of the sea onto the edge of the ice to get prey such as penguins. Antarctic krill comprise about 45% of the leopard seal’s diet. [20] You may also be interested in: Why Is the Bush Dog Endangered? But because leopard seals breed in water, scientists have hypothesized that their acoustic communications play an important role in locating and selecting a mate. Their large front flippers are used to steer themselves through the water column making them extremely agile while hunting. Their massive bodies have large heads and long broad foreflippers. If your sense of adventure takes you on an Antarctic cruise, you may be lucky enough to cross paths with a leopard seal. National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen dove into Antarctic waters in 2006 to catch a glimpse of leopard seals in their natural habitat. [47], From a conservation standpoint, the only known predators of the leopard seals are killer whales and sharks. The leopard seal is most closely related to the Weddell seal, the crabeater seal, and the Ross seal, all of which live in the Antarctic. Orcas (killer whales) are currently the only recognized predator of leopard seals. (907.18 kg). Leopard seals live in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters of the Ross Sea, Antarctic Peninsula, Weddell Sea, South Georgia, and Falkland Islands. However, attacks on humans are rare. Examples of aggressive behaviour, stalking and attacks have been documented. Currently they are protected under the Convention for the Conservation for Antarctic Seals (1972) limiting kill to 12,000 in any one year. Danger Beneath the Water: 10 Facts About Leopard Seals, The cruises on oceanwide-expeditions.com have received an average, Zodiac Cruising around the South Orkney Islands, Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin incl. It is not easy maintaining a long and healthy lifestyle in the wilds of Antarctica, and leopard seals are lucky to have not only a generalized diet but also few predators. This seal species is seriously endangered. During the breeding season, both sexes of leopard seal become extremely vocal. They’re amazing creatures to observe in and out of the water, and a quintessential aspect of an Antarctic experience. [33], Around the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, the Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella) is the main prey. Leopard seals are second only amongst seal species to elephant seals in terms of size. 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