Leopard Seal

Leopard Seal
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Photographer: Per-Gunnar Ostby of www.pgoimages.com

Leopard Seal

Leopard Seal Range Map (Antarctic)
Created by: Mirko Thiessen
Leopard Seal Range Map (Antarctic)

Latin Name Hydrurga leptonyx
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location Antarctic & Sub-Antarctic Waters
Colour Silver/Grey
Length 2.5 - 3.2 m (8.25 - 10 ft)
Weight 200 - 455 Kgs (440 - 1,000 lbs)
Life Expectancy

26 Yrs

Main Characteristics

Leopard Seals have a fearsome reputation and they are the top predators in the Antarctic waters. 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).

They have a long, slender body with their widest point being their shoulders. They are silver/grey in colour with a variety of dark spots, which is where their name originates.

Their front flippers are long and have claws along the edge. They use both these and their hind flippers to swim. Their lower jaw is wide and deep, and they have 2.5 cm (1 inch) sharp, canine teeth.

Leopard Seals are bold and powerful when they are in the water but they are shallow water hunters and do not dive to the depths reached by other seals. They have very well developed senses of sight and smell which helps to make them excellent hunters.


Leopard Seals are found in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters. They are solitary, only coming together in small groups to breed.


Leopard Seals mainly feed upon smaller seals, penguins, other birds, fish, squid and krill.

They catch and kill penguins by grabbing their feet, shaking them and beating them against the surface of the water.


After a gestation period between 8 and 9 months, 1 pup is born during the Antarctic summer between November and January. Females stock up on food before giving birth in a hole in the pack ice.

The pup is fed on fat rich milk which enables it to grow quickly and within a month it has moulted its first coat and is ready to go to sea.

Females become sexually mature at 2 - 6 years old and males at 3 - 7 years old.


The main predator of Leopard Seals are Killer Whales.


Leopard Seals have no subspecies

Interesting Facts

The estimated population of Leopard Seals is in the region of 220,000 - 440,000 individuals.

The Leopard Seal is the largest of the true Antarctic seals.

Leopard Seals are the only seals to feed on other seals.

Similar Animals

Crabeater Seal
Ross Seal
Weddell Seal
Bearded Seal
Hooded Seal


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