Second leopard seal to visit Kommetjie has died

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A leopard seal that landed on Long Beach near Kommetjie died on Sunday. This the second leopard seal to visit Cape shores this winter.

After landing on Long Beach on Friday 13 August, Two Oceans Aquarium tagged the female leopard seal and treated it for minor injuries. The area was cordoned off and minders from Shark Spotters were placed to observe and protect the seal. Sadly the seal died on Sunday and a post mortem will be conducted. Until then Two Oceans Aquarium can only speculate as to the cause. It could be a combination of factors: exhaustion after swimming great distances (leopard seals home ground is in Antarctica), hunger and stress caused by the activity of onlookers observing the seal on the beach.

Getaway will keep readers updated on the results of the post mortem.

 

Distribution, behaviour and size

Leopard seals are solitary animals that live in the Antarctic pack ice. Female leopard seals give birth to a single pup on the sea-ice in November after a 9 month gestation, and then return to the ocean to feed. Pups may weigh in excess of 30kg. Adult males weigh as much as 500kg while females weigh around 350kg. They are known to wander widely in the Antarctic waters, and on odd occasions like this can be swept of course or venture further than normal.

Feeding

Leopard seals generally eat anything they can, including penguins, fish, and crustaceans. They also eat the pups of other seal species including crabeater, Weddell and southern fur seals. The seals have unusual teeth for straining krill from the water, as well as sharp canines.

READ: Second leopard seal visits Kommetjie

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