Southern Elephant Seal

I came across this moulting Southern Elephant Seal (Mirounga leonina) in South Georgia – thought to be the home of the most dense mating colony in the world. This is only a young male, but adults can reach a weight of around 4,000kg and can measure up to 6 metres long – making them the largest true seal or pinniped on the planet. To put that into perspective, these behemoths can be six times bigger than a polar bear and twice the size of their northern cousins the Northern elephant seal. They haul themselves out of the frigid water on to ice free land to bask in the sun for a while whilst moulting, to mate and to give birth, the rest of the time and throughout the winter they live at sea, where they only have to avoid aggressive predators such as leopard seals, orca and large sharks.

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