Southern Elephant Seal

Male Southern Elephant Seal

Southern Elephant Seals

Southern Elephant Seal Range Map (Antarctic & Subantarctic Waters)
Southern Elephant Seal Range Map
(Antarctic & Subantarctic Waters)
Latin Name Mirounga leonina
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location Antarctic & Subantarctic Waters
Colour Silver/Grey or Brown/Grey
Length 4.2 - 6 m (14 - 20 ft)
Weight 2.2 - 5 tonnes (2.1 - 4.9 tons)
Life Expectancy

23 Yrs (average)

Main Characteristics

Southern Elephant Seals are the largest pinniped. They have a body length between 4.2 and 6 m (14 - 20 ft) and they weigh between 2.2 and 5 tonnes (2.1 - 4.9 tons). Males are usually 4 - 5 times larger than females.

They get their name from the large, inflatable, trunk-like proboscis that is present in males. They use this to enhance their vocalizations during the breeding season.


Southern Elephant Seals are found in Antarctic and Subantarctic waters. They only come ashore to breed and the rest of their time is spent at sea.


Southern Elephant Seals feed upon fish and squid. When foraging their averages dives are between 300 and 800 m (984 - 2,624 ft) and they stay underwater for up to 20 minutes, but they can dive to depths of over 1,500 m (4,920 ft) and stay submerged for up to 2 hours.


Southern Elephant Seals breed each year between August and November. After a gestation period of 7 - 9 months a single pup is born weighing approximately 42.5 kgs (94 lbs). The pup is weaned after 20 - 25 days.

Females reach sexual maturity at 2 - 4 years of age and males at 5 - 6, but males do not usually begin breeding until they are developed enough to compete for mates, which is usually when they reach 10 - 12 years old.


Predators of Southern Elephant Seals include killer whales and large sharks, such as great white sharks. Leopard seals will also prey upon pups.


Southern Elephant Seals have no subspecies

Interesting Facts

The Southern Elephant seal is one of two species of elephant seal, the other being the northern elephant seal.

Similar Animals

Northern Elephant Seal


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