Fun Seal Facts

Seals are Marine Mammals and one of three groups of pinnipeds
• True Seals ( family Phocidae)
• Eared Seals ~ Sea lions and Fur seals ( family Otariidae)
• Walrus (family Odobenidae)

True seals move easily in the water but are clumsy on land. Unlike Eared seals, true seals have no noticeable ear flaps, and cannot support themselves with their flippers.  The walrus, on the other hand, is categorized as being in between the true and eared seals.  This means that it shares characteristics with both and is not so easily divided.

In general, seals are defined by a few unique characteristics:

  • Sleek-bodied
  • Large bodies
  • Well adapted to aquatic habitat
  • Most of their lives are spent in aquatic habitats
  • Forelimbs are large flippers
  • Bodies narrow out into a tail
  • External ear pinnae or flaps


Photo provided by Corel with permission


The smallest pinniped is the Galapagos fur seal measuring at 1.2 meters long and weighing 30 kg when full-grown.  Male elephant seals, the largest of all seals, can grow as long as 6 meters and weigh up to 3,500 kg!  The female elephant seals are usually much smaller at 4 meters and 800 kg. 

Also, just like other mammals, pinnipeds have to shed their fur once in a while. However, eared seals shed more slowly than earless seals.  And most earless seals spend most their time in the water while moulting.

For their diet--All pinnipeds are carnivorous, eating fish, shellfish, squid, and other marine creatures.  Some seals even eat other seals if they are the leopard seal or South American sea lion.

When breeding, pinnipeds often come ashore or haul out on ice.  They are known for often traveling long distances from their feeding grounds in search of suitable mating grounds. Almost all male pinnipeds breed with up to several dozen females in a season. 

Picture provided by permission from Wikipedia Commons

Female seal’s average life span is 40 years, but the eldest recorded female was found to be 46 years of age and pregnant. A male seal’s life span is approximately 10 years less.

Above information was summarized and provided from the following sites:
Wikipedia and the National Seal Sanctuary


Photo provided by Corel with permission


Fun Seal Facts
Important Terms
Diving Mammal Basics
Adaptations and Physiological Control
Possible Future Studies or Areas of Exploration
Literature Cited
External Links
Hot Topics in Animal Physiology

This website was created as a part of a class project in the
Animal Physiology Class at
Davidson College.

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