Southern Elephant Seal  |  

Mirounga leonina

Status: Vulnerable on the EPBC Act list

The southern elephant seal is the largest pinniped species and exhibits the most extreme sexual dimorphism of any mammal with males weighing up to 3800 kg and up to 9 times more than females. The male southern elephant seal reaches over 4 m from head to tail, although size can vary somewhat between localities. Adult males often have intensive scarring on the neck and carry a prominent erectile proboscis, or trunk, which gives the species its common name and adds resonance to the male’s vocal challenges to other adult males. Females are much smaller (200-260 cm and 250-800 kg) and lack the intensive scarring and prominent proboscis of adult males. Females and young males have a robust body, large eyes and bulbous nostrils.

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • Australian Government, Conservation Advice, Mirounga leonina

    The exact causes of this continued decline remain uncertain; however; they are more likely related to changes in food supply mediated by climate and oceanic variability (de Little et al.; 2007 van den Hoff et al.; 2007; 2014) than direct anthropogenic impacts (Burton van den Hoff 2002 McMahon et al.; 2005a).
    Threat factor Consequence Extent Evidence base rating over which threat may operate Climate and Moderate to Large Altered climate and oceanographic oceanographic severe conditions and El Ni?ño events in the variability and Southern ocean have been correlated change with changes in foraging success; pup production and survival; and changes in population dynamics for southern elephant seals in the Australian region and elsewhere (e.g.