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Seal Gifts and Sea Lion Gifts

Seals are typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped. Their bodies are well adapted to the aquatic habitat where they spend most of their lives. Their limbs consist of short, wide, flat flippers.

Sea lions are any of seven species in seven genera of modern pinnipeds including one extinct species. Sea lions are characterized by the presence of external ear. Their range extends from the subarctic to tropical waters of the global ocean in both the northern and southern hemispheres with the notable exception of the Atlantic Ocean.

Elephant Seals

Learn about Elephant Seals

The elephant seal is a type of large, earless seal comprising the taxonomic genus mirounga. There are two species of elephant seal, the northern elephant seal, or Mirounga angustirostris, and the southern elephant seal, Mirounga leonina.

The elephant seal is an oceangoing seal. The northern elephant seal can be found along the Pacific coast of Mexico, the U.S., and Canada, with its range in the north ending at the southern tip of Vancouver, Canada. The southern elephant seal resides along the coasts of New Zealand, South Africa, and Argentina, as well as around several Southern Hemisphere islands in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Of all seal species, the elephant seal is the largest. Southern elephant seals are larger than their northern relatives, with males typically measuring 16 feet in length and weighing 6,600 pounds, and females being significantly smaller at an average of ten feet long and 2,000 pounds. At their largest, southern elephant seal males can measure 20 feet in length and weigh 8,000 pounds. Northern elephant seal males measure between 14 and 16 feet in length and can weigh up to 5,400 pounds.

The elephant seal is notable for more than just its size; adult males have a large proboscis which somewhat resembles the trunk of an elephant, hence the name "elephant seal." This proboscis helps males retain moisture in their bodies, which is especially useful during the mating season, when males remain on land for extended periods of time. It also allows male elephant seals to make exceptionally loud roaring sounds, which are also used during the mating season.

A carnivore, the elephant seal subsists primarily on medium- to large-sized sea life, such as large fish, small sharks, rays, eels, squid, and octopuses. To hunt, the elephant seal dives to average depths or 980 to 1,970 feet. It can hold its breath for over 100 minutes, though males typically dive for an hour and females for 20 minutes.

The elephant seal is protected from the cold of the deep ocean predominantly by its blubber, but also by its coat. Although it spends 80% of its life in the ocean, the elephant seal must come to land in the spring and summer months to stay warm as they molt. While molting, not only the seal's hair but the outer layers of its skin fall off in large patches. The seal regrows another coat on the relative warmth of land.

One of the other few activities in which the elephant seal partakes on land is mating. During the mating season, male elephant seals fight to assert their right to both territory and female elephant seals. The victors of these matches gather groups of female mating partners and protect them from other males. Females also give birth on land.

About the Author
Jacob Maddox manages content for Wildlife Animals an educational wildlife and animal website.

Seal and Sea Lion Gifts




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