T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Seal (Leopard) Hydrurga leptonyx

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Clade: Pinnipedia
Family: Phocidae
Subfamily: Monachinae
Tribe: Lobodontini
Genus: Hydrurga
Species: H. leptonyx
Binomial name: Hydrurga leptonyx
Synonym: Phoca leptonyx
Common name: Leopard seal, Sea leopard

Leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) primarily inhabit the Antarctic pack ice, but during autumn and winter, a few animals disperse northward throughout the Southern Ocean, sometimes visiting the Auckland and Campbell islands and New Zealand. It unknown the numbers of individuals that visit New Zealand waters. Some animals have been known to spend a year or more continuously in New Zealand waters. 

Leopard seals feed on animals like penguins and smaller seals, fish, squid and minute krill. Although rare, there are a few records of adult leopard seals attacking humans. There has also been one fatality when a researcher was snorkelling in Antarctic waters and was killed by a leopard seal.

The leopard seal has a disproportionately large head with massive jaws and tremendous gape give it a snake-like appearance. It has a long slim body and large fore-flippers. They are coloured almost black to almost blue on the flanks. The muzzle, throat and belly are light grey colour scattered with dark grey and black spots. 
Adult males are >3.3 m long and weigh up to 300 kg. Adult females are >3.6 m, with very large animals possibly reaching > 500 kg. 







Comparison of the size of a leopard seal and a human (assumed height of 1.82 m.

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/