• Female leopard seals reach weights of up to 500kg which is the same weight as 7,693 Mars Bars. Males can weigh up to 300kg which is the same weight as 4,616 Mars Bars.
Credit: T Rogers
• Leopard seals breed in the Antarctic pack ice. The pack ice is made up of large floating pieces of ice which has been broken up by strong wind and waves.
• Leopard seals eat krill, fish, cephalopods (eg. squid), sea birds and seals.
• Leopard seal boys start to sing just before and then during the breeding season and they sing for up to 13 hours each day from early November through to January.
• Each male leopard seal sings in its own pattern which is different to all the other boy seals.
• The girl leopard seals sing too, which is strange in the animal world as it’s usually only the boys who get to sing.
• Why do they sing – the girls want to find a boy to mate with, but the boys, well, they also want to find a mate but they also want to tell the other boys to ‘get lost’.
• Leopard seals in different areas have different sounds, in the Eastern Antarctic they have five different sounds and we’ve put some in here (insert example of a high double trill)
• Click here to hear a leopard seal call
• We think leopard seals are cool, and know you will too – have a look at National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen’s underwater video of an up-close and personal encounter with a curious female leopard seal:
Credit: T Rogers
• Weddell seals are named after the British Antarctic explorer James Weddell.
• Weddell seals are black with greyish-silver streaks. Like the zebra, the Weddell seal has individual variations in the pattern of its fur.
• The Weddell seal does not drink water. It gets the water it needs from the food it eats.
• Weddell seals use their teeth like a saw to make round holes in the ice for breathing through.
• Weddell seals can dive underwater to depths of 600m. The deep end in an average in-ground swimming pool is 2.5m, the Weddell seal can dive 240 times that depth with one breathe.
• Click here to hear a Weddell seal call
• The Ross seal was named after James Clark Ross, commander of the HMS Erebus and Terror.
• The Ross seal has black hair on their backs with greyish silver streaks along their sides and a pattern of vivid strips running from their lower jaw down their chest.
• The Ross seal is sometimes referred to as the “singing seal” because it often lies with its head raised and mouth open in an upward position
Credit: T Rogers
Southern elephant seals
• Southern elephant seals are the largest of all pinnipeds with males weighing approximately
3700kg, up to 10 times more than female southern elephant seals.
Credit: M Ciaglia
• In the 1800’s the southern elephant seal was hunted for their oil rich blubber. This continued until 1964 at South Georgia, an island in the sub-Antarctic.
• Southern elephant seals form groups called ’harems’ during the breeding season. While a harem consists of many females there is usually only one adult male at any point in time.
• Baby seals are called pups. Usually a female southern elephant seal will have only one pup per year, although they have been known to have twins on some occasions.
North Atlantic right whales
Credit: C Hogg
• North Atlantic right whales were the first species of whale to be commercially hunted. Today they are one of the rarest large whale species in the world with approximately 300 individuals remaining.
• A baby whale is known as a calf. Female North Atlantic right whales have one calf every three years.
• North Atlantic right whales are a baleen whale. This means that they do not have teeth, rather have 200-270 baleen plates with very fine hairs hanging from their upper jaw. The whales use these plates to sieve zooplankton (small crustaceans) from the ocean.
For more information on the above please refer to the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (2002) W.F. Perrin, B. Würsig ad J.G.M. Thewissen (eds), Academic Press, San Diego.