Posts Tagged ‘leopard seal’

Leopard Seals in the Antarctic Seas

February 19th, 2010 at 9:48 am (AST) by Jake Richter

There are two major predators (besides man) in the seas of the Antarctic: Orcas (Killer Whales) and Leopard Seals.

We’ve seen two pods of orcas so far (more on the second pod later), and had a few encounters with leopard seals, which is what the focus of this post is about.

Penguins are mainstay of the leopard seal diet, and thus near penguin colonies is where you’re most likely to find leopard seals. In fact, yesterday afternoon, a group of folks saw a leopard seal attack and eat two Chinstrap penguins (one at a time, in sequence).

We have seen leopard seals twice so far on our trip, and heard of a third set of encounters (including a punctured Zodiac). Leopard seals are large – 8-10 feet long for the ones we’ve seen, and very threatening looking when you see them up close, as they have very reptilian shaped heads, and demonic looking reddish eyes. Of course, Macaroni penguins have red eyes too, and still manage to look cute, but that’s a different story.

Below are a series of photos I have collected over the last several days of leopard seals to help give you some idea of what they look like.

A female leopard seal scouts out our Zodiac - here she doesn't look big but she was over 8 feet long

A female leopard seal scouts out our Zodiac - here she doesn't look big but she was over 8 feet long

A leopard seal gets its name from the spots on it sleek skin

A leopard seal gets its name from the spots on it sleek skin

Leopard seals are very intimidating with their reptilian heads and features and red eye - here the nostrils are closed

Leopard seals are very intimidating with their reptilian heads and features and red eye - here the nostrils are closed

The same leopard seal with nostrils flared and even redder looking eyes

The same leopard seal with nostrils flared and even redder looking eyes

Leopard seals are also quite dexterous and can leap from the water as seen here

Leopard seals are also quite dexterous and can leap from the water as seen here

The above images are available in larger form on Flickr here.