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Animals >>

Elephant Seal


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Male Northern Elephant Seal
Two Elephant seals at Point Piedras Blancas, California
Northern elephant seal, male and female (Mirounga angustirostris)
Female Elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), on Kerguelen Island
Male southern elephant-seal (Mirounga leonina) on northern shore of Kerguelen Islands
There are two types of elephant seal found in the worlds oceans. The northern elephant seal is found in the Northern Hemisphere in the Pacific Ocean near to the coast of Mexico, Canada and the USA. The southern elephant seal is found in the southern hemisphere on the coast of Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand.

The elephant seal is the largest species of seal in the world with the average male elephant seal growing to around 5 m long. The female elephant seals are generally quite a bit smaller than the male elephant seals, and the female elephant seals therefore grow to around 3m.

Elephant seals get their name from the large proboscis (nose) of the adult male elephant seal which closely resembles an elephants trunk. The male elephant seals proboscis is used to make extremely loud roaring noises, especially during the mating season. The male elephant seals long nose also acts as a rebreather, which allows the male elephant seal to conserve vital moisture.

Elephant seals spend around 80% of their lives in the oceans, where the elephant seals hunt for fish, squid, octopus, eels and even small sharks. The southern elephant seal has also been known to hunt the smaller species of penguin.

Elephant seals are able to hold their breath underwater for over 2 hours, which is the longest of any water-based mammal. The elephant seals dive to depths of around 500 meters to hunt for food but some elephant seals have been observed diving to more than 1,500 meters underwater. The male elephant seals are able to stay at such depths for up to an hour, but the female elephant seals tend to resurface after approximately 20 minutes.

Elephant seals have a thick skin and fur to keep them warm in the freezing cold waters, but it is the thick layer of blubber that the elephant seal has under its skin that does the best job at insulating the elephant seal. The skin of the elephant seal molts every year and the elephant seals have to find land in order for the old skin of the elephant seal to molt and the new of the elephant seal to regrow. The molting process of the elephant seal does not occur during mating season, so the male elephant seals are able to stop fighting as there are no child-bearing females to protect.


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Elephant Seal Facts

Kingdom:
Five groups that classify all living things...
Animalia
Phylum:
A group of animals within the animal kingdom...
Chordata
Class:
A group of animals within a pylum...
Mammalia
Order:
A group of animals within a class...
Carnivora
Family:
A group of animals within an order...
Phocidae
Genus:
A group of animals within a family...
Mirounga
Scientific Name:
Comprised of the genus followed by the species...
Mirounga
Type:
The animal group that the species belongs to...
Mammal
Diet:
What kind of foods the animal eats...
Carnivore
Size (L):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is...
3m - 5m (10ft - 16ft)
Weight:
The measurement of how heavy the animal is...
900kg - 3,000kg (2,000lbs - 6,000lbs)
Top Speed:
The fastest recorded speed of the animal...
19km/h (12mph)
Life Span:
How long the animal lives for...
18 - 22 years
Lifestyle:
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable...
Herd
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct...
Least Concern
Colour:
The colour of the animal's coat or markings...
Brown, Black, Tan, Grey
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal...
Fur
Favourite Food:Fish
Habitat:
The specific area where the animal lives...
Warm coastal waters close to land
Average Litter Size:
The average number of babies born at once...
1
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from...
Fish, Squid, Octopus
Predators:
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal...
Human, Sharks, Killer Whales
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to the animal...
Long trunk-like nose and large body

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