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Second round of consultation begins on the future of Freycinet Peninsula


Tasmania's unrivalled natural environment is a key driver in our nation-leading visitor economy and the Freycinet Peninsula is one of our most popular tourism destinations.More

Sustainable Timber Tasmania and Parks and Wildlife Service issue safety message


Over the coming weeks, a number of roads inside of fire impacted areas will reopen.More

Southwest ecological burns important for orange-bellied parrot conservation


Planned ecological burns in Southwest National Park will help regenerate important habitat areas for the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot.More

Southern Elephant Seal, Mirounga leonina

Southern elephant seals are the largest of all seals with males reaching 4 - 5 m in length and 2 200 kg in weight. Females are much smaller at 2 - 3 m in length and only 500 kg in weight. Southern elephant seals are coloured rusty grey-brown and are covered with thick blubber. Mature males have a large 'trunk', or proboscis which is used to amplify their vocalisations and, together with their bulk, gives rise to their name 'elephant' seal. They often appear cumbersome and indifferent to humans yet, despite their awkwardness, the speed with which they can move their bulk makes them potentially dangerous if harassed.

Southern elephant seals once bred in Tasmania on King Island but were wiped out by the sealing industry. There have been several births of Elephant seals recorded in Tasmania. On Maatsuyker Island there have been two recordings of Elephant seals giving birth with a pup born in 1977 and one in 1998. Around the coast of mainland Tasmania, there have been two records of females with pups including one at Strahan on the West coast in 1958 when a cow gave birth in the main street, and one near St Helens on the East coast in 1977.

Their diet consists mainly of squid.

Each year in Tasmania an average of three elephant seals are reported. The age of the animals visiting our shores varies from 'underyearling' and yearling animals (less than a year old and one year old respectively), to animals of 16 or more years of age.

Often people mistake the elephant seal for a sick or shot fur seal. The genital area is unfortunately mistaken by many people for a gun shot wound. Elephant seals have bloody-looking mouths, which is perfectly normal for this species but often alarms people who have not seen the species before.

The closest breeding area of elephant seals is Macquarie Island. Here, there is an estimated population of 86 000 animals; however, the population is declining at a rate of 2.5% per annum.