- For other uses, see Leopard Seal (disambiguation).
The leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx), also referred to as the sea leopard, is the second largest species of seal in the Antarctic (after the southern elephant seal).
In the Real WorldEditThe leopard seal is named for its black-spotted coat. The pattern is similar to that of the famous big cat, though the seal's coat is gray rather than golden in color. This seal is sometimes called the sea leopard, and the resemblance is more than skin deep. Like their feline namesakes, leopard seals are fierce predators. They are the most formidable hunters of all the seals and the only ones that feed on warm-blooded prey, such as other seals. Leopard seals use their powerful jaws and long teeth to kill smaller seals, fish, and squid.
These effective predators live in frigid Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters, where they also eat penguins. They often wait underwater near an ice shelf and snare the birds just as they enter the water after jumping off the ice. They may also come up beneath seabirds resting on the water surface and snatch them in their jaws.
Shellfish are a far less dramatic prey but still an important part of the leopard seal's diet.
Leopard seals are earless seals. They have long bodies (10 to 11.5 feet/3 to 3.5 meters) and elongated heads. Like most other seals, leopard seals are insulated from frigid waters by a thick layer of fat known as blubber.
Though the leopard seal is known for its coat, it has not been commercially hunted for its skin like its fur seal relatives.
These seals are reputed to be the most dangerous of all, they have even attacked humans:
- A large leopard seal attacked Thomas Orde-Lees (1877–1958), a member of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–1917 when the expedition was camping on the sea ice. A large "sea leopard" of about 12 ft (3.7 m) long and 1,100 lb (500 kg) chased Orde-Lees on the ice. He was saved only when another member of the expedition shot the animal.
- In 1985, Scottish explorer Gareth Wood was bitten twice on the leg when a leopard seal tried to drag him off the ice and into the sea. His companions managed to save him by repeatedly kicking the animal in the head with the spiked crampons on their boots.
- In 2003, a leopard seal dragged snorkeling biologist Kirsty Brown of the British Antarctic Survey nearly 200 ft (61 m) underwater to her death, in what was identified as the first known human fatality from a leopard seal.
Leopard seals have shown a particular predilection for attacking the black, torpedo-shaped pontoons of rigid inflatable boats, necessitating researchers to equip their craft with special protective guards to prevent them from being punctured.
In the Happy Feet franchiseEdit
In Happy Feet, a leopard seal jumped to Mumble's iceberg, trying to eat him for breakfast, as Mumble tries to escape he grabs hold of Mumble's tail with his huge tusk-like teeth and rips it in half. He chases Mumble out of the water and on to land, where they are slower. There, he is mocked by the Amigos and gives up on his hunt - "Remember dumplings, I know where you live", and he went back into the water as he is not seen in the rest of the film. He also has a V scar on his head.
In Happy Feet Two, Leopard Seals look different than they did in the first movie. They are first seen, when they are sleeping, but they are waked by the sound of the Doomberg. Two leopard seals can be seen trying to eat Ramón after spiting Bill and Will in the water.
During when Mumble is looking for a way to break the ice and free Bryan the Beach Master, Bill and Will climb up on the ice pad and went into the Leopard Seal's body but Mumble tries to wake him up. When Mumble did his butt dance to the leopard seal, Will the Krill bites the seal and chases after Mumble. After the Leopard Seal breaks the ice wall, he flees away and also, Bill and Will get off on the Leopard Seal's back and continue their search for the food chain.