Bayworld Oceanarium

Southern Elephant Seal

Common name: Southern Elephant Seal

Scientific name: Mirounga leonina

Southern elephant seals are extreme mammals. They are the largest of all seals and the largest of all the Carnivora. Males reach up to 4.5 m in length and weights of four tons. Females are much smaller, reaching masses of 900 kg. They are also the deepest and longest divers of all the seals with a record of 2 133 m and some two hours. The breeding season takes place from September – early November when adult males establish territories. The females give birth to pups weighing around 40 kg during this time. The pups grow rapidly, tripling or quadrupling their weight by the time that they are weaned at some 21 days of age.

Southern elephant seals live in the waters of the southern Ocean where they spend approximately 65 % of their lives below 100 m. They breed on islands of the Southern Ocean including Marion and Prince Edward Islands. This species regularly visits the South African coast and a few pups have even been born ashore.

Bayworld has hosted two southern elephant seals before as part of the rehabilitation programme.

sign up to our newsletter