Life Span: Average 12-16 years in the wild
Size: Males - 1.8-2.5m; females - 1.5-1.7m
Weight: Males - up to 300kgs; females - up to 105kgs
Collective Noun: Colony
Structure: Their body is streamlined like a torpedo to enable them to glide through the water. Their forelimbs and hind limbs are flippers, formed by their long phalanges (finger bones), which are used for swimming.
Swimming: The front flippers are used in a winglike motion to propel the seal through the water, with the rear flippers acting like rudders.
Colouration: Adult males are chocolate brown in colour with a golden or creamy coloured patch of fur on the back of their head and neck. Adult females are silvery in colour on their backs with cream down their sides and chest.
Staying Warm: Their thick fur allows them to live in extremely cold water.
Keeping Cool: In order to help cool down, seals raise a flipper to the cool breeze out of the water, which cools down the blood in that flipper and they can then pass that cool blood around their body
Sensitive Whiskers: Their whiskers work as sensors so that they can detect movement in dark waters to find a meal.
Differences between ‘true seals’ and ‘eared seals’: True seals, such as our Leopard Seal, differ from other pinnipeds (‘wing footed’ mammals – seals, walruses etc.) in two easy-to-recognize ways. They lack external earflaps and they can’t “walk” on land like eared seals can.
Despite lacking external earflaps, they can still hear through small holes on the sides of their heads that connect to internal hearing organs.
True seals are unable to “walk” on all fours because their back flippers cannot bend forward under their body. Instead, they move like a worm by pulling their heavy bodies forward with their strong front flippers.
Additionally, true seals swim by using their rear flippers while eared seals swim by using their fore flippers. When it comes to scratching, it's the opposite; true seals use their fore flippers while sea lions use their rear flippers. And in general, true seals have more blubber and are more streamlined than eared seals.
Differences between seals and sea-lions: The sea-lions and fur seals that you see in Taronga’s Seal Show are all ‘eared seals’. They differ by the fur seals having two layers fur, whilst the sea-lions only have one layer fur.