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Elephant Seal Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

What mammal weighs as much as a truck, has a nose like an elephant, and loves to swim in the ocean? This crazy looking animal is called an elephant seal. This lesson teaches you about these big seals and how they live.

What are Elephant Seals?

Elephant seals are some of the largest seals in the world. Their enormous bodies flop awkwardly across the land, so they prefer to spend time in the cold ocean waters where they are great swimmers and divers.

Elephant Seals On Land
Elephant Seals On Land

What Do They Look Like?

Elephant seals don't mind the cold water because their bodies are covered in thick skin and full of blubber. The males can grow to be 20 feet long and weigh over 8,000 pounds, which is more than the average pickup truck weighs. Female elephant seals are smaller than males, growing to about nine feet long and 1,300 pounds.

The Big Nose of an Elephant Seal
elephant seal

You probably think that their large size is why they are called elephant seals, but their name is mostly due to their long noses that look like elephant trunks. The males use their big noses like trumpets to make roaring noises. The roars impress the lady elephant seals during mating season, so the male with the best roar gets his pick of female mates.

The large seals like to spend their days swimming and hunting for food in the ocean waters. They can hold their breath for longer than an hour, which allows them to dive deep into the ocean to find dinner.

What Do They Eat and Where Do They Live?

Elephant seals dine on seafood and consider squid, eel, octopus, and fish a yummy dinner. These large water mammals are willing to migrate or swim long distances to find food.

There are two types of elephant seals, the northern and the southern. The northern elephant seals live in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the United States, Canada and Mexico. The southern species prefer the cold Antarctic waters.

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