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Elephant Seal

Male Northern Elephant Seal Elephant seal colonyNorthern Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostrisKing Penguins and Southern Elephant Seal at South Georgia IslandMale southern elephant-seal (Mirounga leonina) on northern shore of Kerguelen Islands
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Elephant Seal Facts

Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
A group of animals within a family
Scientific Name:
The name of the animal in science
The animal group that the species belongs to
What kind of foods the animal eats
Size (L):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
3m - 5m (10ft - 16ft)
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)
How long the animal lives for
18 - 22 years
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Least Concern
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Brown, Black, Tan, Grey
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Favourite Food:
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
Warm coastal waters close to land
Average Litter Size:
The average number of babies born at once
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from
Fish, Squid, Octopus
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Human, Sharks, Killer Whales
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to this animal
Long trunk-like nose and large body

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Elephant Seal Location

Map of Elephant Seal Locations

Elephant Seal

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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First Published: 15th December 2008, Last Updated: 10th September 2018

1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 15 Dec 2008]
2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. David W. Macdonald, Oxford University Press (2010) The Encyclopedia Of Mammals [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2010]
4. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 15 Dec 2008]
5. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2009]
6. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 15 Dec 2008]