Southern Elephant Seals

The South Georgia Islands and South Atlantic are home to the Southern elephant seal. The world’s largest seal, adult males weigh up to 6,614 lbs. (3,000 kg) and measure 15 feet (4.6 m) in length. Females are often half or one-third the weight. Breeding season lasts for two months, beginning in September and ending in October. Nursing continues for three weeks until the mother starts weaning. During this transitional period, females mate for several days. Pups must reach 8 to 10 weeks before entering the water. These marine mammals are among the most efficient and capable divers. The most impressive dive on record reached 4692 feet (1430m) and lasted 120 minutes. Typical dives last around 25 minutes and reach depths of 984 to 1640 feet (300 to 500m). The elephant seal is one of few seal species that spends extended amounts of time on land, where they prefer sandy beaches and the rocky shores of islands.