The Southern Elephant Seal is a large marine mammal and the largest of all seals. Adult males weigh between 1500 and 3700 kg and grow to between 450 and 580 cm long. Adult females are much smaller, weighing between 350 and 600 kg and growing to between 200 and 300 cm long. Southern Elephant Seals are coloured rusty grey-brown and are covered with thick blubber. Mature males have a large ‘trunk’, or proboscis (nose) which is used to amplify their vocalisations and, together with their bulk, gives rise to their name ‘elephant’ seal. This species can be distinguished from other true seals in the region, as other species are paler or have spots or streaks which elephant seals lack.
Southern Elephant Seal |
Status: Vulnerable on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
IUCN Red List Assessment, Mirounga leonina
The possible effects of global climate change on Southern Elephant Seals are not well known but such changes may negatively impact prey populations or change marine habitat (Learmonth et al. 2006; Kovacs et al. 2012).
It is also possible that a reduction in sea ice due to climate change may benefit Southern Elephant Seals (van den Hoff et al. 2014).