Weddell Seal

Weddell Seal
Photographer: Per-Gunnar Ostby of

Weddell Seal Range Map (Antarctic)
Weddell Seal Range Map (Antarctic)
Latin Name Leptonychotes weddellii
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location Antarctic & Sub-Antarctic Waters
Colour Silver/Grey
Length 2.5 - 2.9 m (8.25 - 9.5 ft)
Weight 400 - 600 Kgs (880 - 1,320 lbs)
Life Expectancy

20 Yrs

Main Characteristics

Weddell Seals are placid animals that have a body length between 2.5 and 2.9 m (8.25 - 9.5 ft) and they weigh between 400 and 600 Kgs (880 - 1,320 lbs).

They are silver/grey in colour and they have short dense fur that protects them from water temperatures as low as -2°C (28°F). Their body is large and bulky, and they have a small head and flippers. They have a short, blunt muzzle and a few short whiskers.

Their canine teeth are strong and sharp, and they use these to bite breathing holes in the ice. Due to this they wear their teeth down extensively and when they reach a certain level of wear they can no longer hunt and they starve to death.

Weddell Seals have excellent eye sight and they can dive to depths of over 600 m (1,970 ft) for periods of over 1 hour. They do this mainly during the night to feed and they can remain submerged for so long because they have the ability to collapse their lungs and lower their breathing rate.

Weddell Seals make a variety of calls and sounds in order to communicate. Play fighting is often engaged in between juveniles and when Weddell Seals leave the water they are commonly found sleeping on their sides taking advantage of the sun's rays.


Weddell Seals are found in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters. They spend their winter under the Antarctic Sea ice, emerging through cracks and blow holes to breathe, and they can be found in large groups on fast pack ice. They live further south than any other mammal, in the waters of McMurdo Sound, 1,287 kms (800 miles) from the South Pole.


Weddell Seals mainly feed upon fish, squid and krill. They sometimes blow air bubbles into cracks in the ice to flush out potential prey.


Weddell Seals give birth in colonies between September and October. After a gestation period of 9 - 10 months 1 pup is born weighing approximately 29 kgs (64 lbs).

Their mother feeds them fat rich milk which enables them to grow quickly and after 6 - 8 weeks the pups are weaned. They reach maturity at 3 years of age but may not breed until they reach 6 years of age.


The main predator of Weddell Seals are humans.


Weddell Seals have no subspecies

Interesting Facts

Weddell Seals are named after the British Antarctic explorer Sir James Weddell.

The estimated population of Weddell Seals is in the region of 800,000 individuals.

Weddell Seals are usually heavily infested with worms.

Similar Animals

Leopard Seal
Crabeater Seal
Ross Seal
Bearded Seal
Hooded Seal


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