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The Secret Lives of Wild
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The Secret Lives of Wild Animals — Text-only | Flash Special Report
Seal


Quick Facts
WEDDELL SEAL
(Leptonychotes weddellii)

SIZE
Adult Weddell seals are about 10 feet long and weigh 850 to 1,100 pounds. Seal pups weigh about 60 pounds at birth and nearly 300 pounds by the time they are six weeks old.

HABITAT and RANGE
Weddell seals inhabit the waters and ice surrounding Antarctica. They are the southernmost-ranging mammal permanently inhabiting the continent.

DIET
Weddell seals feed on fish and squid. They may eat over 100 silverfish in a single dive. A Weddell seal has been reported attacking an Antarctic toothfish that weighed over 100 pounds.

CHARACTERISTICS
Weddell seals can stay underwater for more than an hour, while diving to depths of over 2,000 feet. During the winter months, when Antarctic waters freeze over, seals keep a breathing hole open by gnawing through the ice. They are generally calm, sedentary animals that are easily approached by humans.


ANTARCTIC SILVERFISH
(Pleuragramma antarcticum)

SIZE
Antarctic silverfish are six to eight inches long.

HABITAT and RANGE
Antarctic silverfish inhabit the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica.

CHARACTERISTICS
Antarctic silverfish are very important in the Antarctic food web as a major food source for other fish, seals, whales and seabirds.


ANTARCTIC TOOTHFISH
(Dissostichus mawsoni)

SIZE
Antarctic toothfish reach six feet in length and can weigh over 165 pounds.

HABITAT and RANGE
Antarctic toothfish inhabit the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica.

CHARACTERISTICS
Antarctic toothfish take seven to 10 years to reach sexual maturity and can live for over 40 years. They are closely related to the Patagonian toothfish, which is popularly known as Chilean sea bass.

Images:
Weddell seals are the southernmost-ranging mammal to permanently inhabit Antarctica. During the winter months, when Antarctic waters freeze over, seals keep a breathing hole open by gnawing through the ice.
Credit:
Nicolle Rager Fuller,
National Science Foundation