Weddell Seal

Weddell Seal

Mammalia

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: Weddell seal
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Pinnipedia
FAMILY: Phocidae
GENUS SPECIES: Leptonychotes weddellii

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: The Weddell seal is a large seal with a bulky body, a relatively small head, and a short, wide snout. The adults are dark gray to brown with dark and light patches on the ventral side and silvery white dorsally. The front flippers are small relative to body size. Pups are born with light gray or occasionally golden fur.
SIZE: May reach lengths of 2.9 m (9.5 ft.)
FEMALE Females grow slightly larger than males
WEIGHT: Weigh up to 400-600 kg (881-1323 lb.)
DIET: Feeds mainly on fishes; diet also includes cephalopods and crustaceans (including krill)
GESTATION: 10.25 months (with 1.6 months delayed implantation)
ESTRAL PERIOD Typically during late lactation
NURSING DURATION 45-50 days (wean)
SEXUAL MATURITY:
MALE 3-6 years
FEMALE 2-6 years
LIFE SPAN: Up to 30 years
RANGE: Live in and around the Antarctic; has the southernmost distribution of any pinniped
HABITAT: Land fast ice
POPULATION: GLOBAL No data
STATUS: IUCN Lower Risk/least concern
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed

FUN FACTS

1. Weddell seals belong to the scientific order Pinnipedia, which includes seals, sea lions, and walruses.
2. Seals differ from sea lions in a number of ways, including having no visible earflaps.
3. Antarctic seals tend to have longer, more pointed foreflippers than northern phocids.
4. Weddell seals are named for Captain James Weddell, an explorer in the 1820's whose book described and illustrated Weddell seals.
5. Weddell seals often dive to depths of 300-400 m (984-1312 ft.), and may dive to depths of 600 m (1968 ft.).
6. Most dives average 15 minutes long, but a 73 minute dive has been recorded.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

Antarctic seals, including the crabeater, leopard, Weddell, Ross, southern elephant, and Antarctic fur seals, are protected by the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bonner, N. Seals and Sea Lions of the World. New York. Facts on File, Inc. 2004.

Byrum, J. Pinnipeds From Pole to Pole: Seals, Sea Lions and Walruses. SeaWorld Education Department Publication. San Diego. SeaWorld, Inc. 2000.

Jefferson, T.J. Leatherwood, S. and M.A. Webber. FAO Species Identification Guide. Marine Mammals of the World. Rome. FAO, 1993.

Nowak, Ronald M. (ed.). Walker's Marine Mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Parker, S. (ed.). Grizmek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol. IV. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., 1990.

Reeves, R. R., Stewart, B.S., Clapman, P.J., and J.A. Powell (Peter Folkens illustrator). National Audubon Society: Guide to Marine Mammals of the World. New York: Random House, 2002.

Reeves, R.R., Stewart, B.S. and S. Stephen. The Sierra Club Handbook of Seals and Sirenians. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1992.

Ridgway, S.H. and R.J. Harrison (Eds). Handbook of Marine Mammals: Volume 2: Seals. London. Academic Press, 1981.

Riedman, M. The Pinnipeds: Seals, Sea Lions and Walruses. Berkeley and Los Angeles. University of California Press. 1990.