Weddell Seal

Weddell Seal



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


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)
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
STATUS: IUCN Lower Risk/least concern
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed


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.


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.


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