Animals

17 Weddell Seal Facts You’ll Never Forget

Weddell seal facts for kids are educational!
Share
Tweet

Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) are deep-diving and non-migratory true seals without ears; they are found near the South Pole on the coast of Antarctica. Weddell seals are counted amongst the largest species of seals in the world, it is easy to determine their sex as adult females are slightly bulkier than adult males. A baby pup has a gray fur coat, and as it grows it becomes dark gray. They can remain submerged in water near fast ice with their head above the cracks and holes on the surface.

Weddell seals were discovered in the 1820s by James Weddell, a British captain during the expedition of the Southern Ocean. Weddell seals have been well-documented for years as they occupy fast ice regions close to the Antarctic continent.

If you liked these facts about Weddell seals, then you'll surely like these facts about seals and harbor seals too!


Weddell Seal

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Squids, fishes, krills, penguins, crustaceans, prawns, cephalopods, and other seals.

What do they eat?

Carnivore

Average litter size?

2

How much do they weigh?

880–1,320 lb (400–600 kg)

How long are they?

98.4-137.7 in (250–350 cm)

How tall are they?

N/A

What do they look like?

Gray

Skin Type

Fur

What are their main threats?

Leopard seals, killer whales

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Sea Ice

Locations

Antarctica

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Mammalia

Scientific Name

Leptonychotes weddellii

Family

Phocidae

Genus

Leptonychotes

Weddell Seal Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Weddell seal?

The Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) are large and true seals with no visible ear flaps, belonging to the family of Phocidae. They live above the horizon at all times in the surrounding Antarctic region. These seals spend most of their time during the winter season inside the ice with their head above the cracks, and in breathing holes, nibbling their teeth on the ice.

What class of animal does a Weddell seal belong to?

The Weddell seal belongs to the Mammalia class of animals. Having mammary glands to feed their young ones, the presence of the three ear bones, fur or hair, and the neocortex (region of the brain) are what qualifies the Weddell seals as mammals.

Weddell seals (Leptonychote weddellii) belong to the genus Leptonychote of the seal family Phocidae.

How many Weddell seals are there in the world?

Currently, the total population of Weddell seals is over 800,000 in the world, and their population is rapidly increasing.

Where does a Weddell seal live?

Weddell seals are found in the fast ice region of Antarctica and due to recent population distribution, they are also found alongside the Antarctic bases.

What is a Weddell seal's habitat?

Weddell seals are non-migrating species of seals, moving from one breathing hole to another, and when on land they are found lying on their sides. Weddell seals are primarily found in the Antarctic waters near glaciers, but due to climate change, the population of the Weddell seal is becoming distributed further afield as the ice melts.

Who do Weddell seals live with?

Weddell seals are seen gathering in groups near the breathing holes made in the sea ice and stay together in the Antarctic with their nose just above the ice to avoid the howling winds.

How long does a Weddell seal live?

Weddell seals can live up to 30 years on average in the wild where they have a favorable habitat.

How do they reproduce?

Weddell seals reach their sexual maturity at the age of three years old, and their breeding season occurs in September through November, depending on the latitude of their domain. These animals become extremely loud during the mating season, which occurs in the water with their head above the water.

The Weddell seal is found giving birth to twins, mother seals give birth to the seal pups within five months. The newly born seal pup is born half the length of their mother, around 59 in (150 cm), weighing up to 55.1 lb (25 kg). After giving birth, the adult female Weddell seal does not feed herself and grows weaker, which makes their ribs visible.

One or two weeks after the pups are born, they start to swim and dive inside the pack ice water for foraging fish and other small creatures.

What is their conservation status?

As per the IUCN list, the Weddel seals are listed as a species of Least Concern. Weddell seals are also protected by the Antarctic Treaty of the Convention for the Conservation of Seals in the Antarctic Region.

Weddell Seal Fun Facts

What do Weddell seals look like?

Breeding facts and other information about the Weddell seal are amusing!

Weddell seals are covered with a thin fur coat on their entire body, except for the area near their flippers. Their coat color varies from light gray to a duller gray as they grow, and these animals molt at the beginning of summer. Their coats turn brown just before the annual molt.

The Weddell seal has a membrane just above their eyes that protects them from salt in the ocean and the blowing snow.

How cute are they?

Weddell seals are very large mammals, but a newly born seal pup is the cutest creature, flopping with their oversized flippers on the ice after birth.

How do they communicate?

Weddell seals communicate with each other through various vocal sounds. Weddell seals can hear from the top of the fast ice if the sound is coming from the water as well, transmitting the sound waves through the ice. Weddell seals are sometimes found vocalizing in the form of a song with repetitive sequences varying slightly with time. Female Weddell seals use vocalization to communicate with the seal pups to alert them to danger, discipline their behavior or call to them.

How big is a Weddell seal?

Weddell seals are large animals, both adult males and adult females are about the same length, growing up to 98.4–137.7 in (250–350 cm), with the females being slightly bulkier than the males.

How fast can a Weddell seal swim?

The Weddell seal can swim at a speed of around 6.2 mph (10 kph). This speed allows them to dive deeper in the pack ice water while foraging for food and escaping from predators.

How much does a Weddell seal weigh?

Weddell seals are one of the largest species amongst the other seal species, weighing 880–1,320 lb (400–600 kg). Females are slightly bulkier than males, and their heads are smaller relative to their body size.

What are their male and female names of the species?

A male Weddell seal is called a bull, a female Weddell seal is called a cow, and a group of Weddell seals is called a colony when on land, and they are called rafts when they are swimming together in the water.

What would you call a baby Weddell seal?

A baby Weddell seal is called a pup, they are born with soft and fine dark gray hair which they molt after three or four weeks and become darker like the adults. Weddell seal pups are born around half the length of their mother weighing up to 55-66 lb (25-30 kg), and their primary diet is fish.

What do they eat?

Their feeding habit depends on the location and time, these species are carnivorous and their diet consists of squid, fish, krill, penguins, crustaceans, prawns, cephalopods, and even other seals. Weddell seals are excellent divers with their magnificent underwater vision helping them in hunting their prey.

Are they dangerous?

Weddell seals are friendly and docile animals, they are not considered to be aggressive when compared to the leopard seals.

Seals are intelligent animals and can form social attachments with humans, but they can become aggressive as they are wild animals and can injure you.

Would they make a good pet?

No, you can not keep a Weddell seal as a pet. Their large size and unique habitat requirement are major concerns for them.

Did you know...

Weddell seals can easily stay submerged in water for more than 70 minutes at a time, diving up to 600 meters deep while foraging for food and searching for new cracks and breathing holes in the ice. Their ability to dive deep and stay in such cold water is because of the huge number of red blood cells and blood volume compared to other mammals, allowing them to carry more oxygen when they are underwater.

Weddell seals have magnificent underwater vision, giving them a clear view inside the pack ice water when hunting for fish.

During winters Weddell seals find their prey inside the water with the help of their extremely motion-sensitive vibrissae.

Leopard seals are the biggest seal found in the Antarctic region and these species give birth to pups weighing around 66 lb (29.9 kg).

What makes a Weddell seal a true seal?

Weddell seal is a true seal. True seals are those species of seals with no external ear flaps. They are also known as crawling seals to differentiate them from other mammals, such as sea lions and fur seals from the family of Otariidae

Do Weddell seals eat penguins?

Weddell seals are seen attacking four different penguin species, the chinstrap penguins, the gentoo penguins, the Adelie penguins, and the Emperor penguins, and penguins make up only a fraction of their diets. It is a learned behavior as these seals are known for hunting seabirds as well.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including lynx facts and lion facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable mammals coloring pages.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.