Pinniped Species


Crabeater Seal

Scientific Name: Leptonychotes weddellii
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Pinnipedia
Family: Phocidae
Genus: Lobodon
Species: carcinophaga
Other Common Names: Crabeater Seal
Average Length:

7 ft - 8.5 ft

Average Weight:

440 lbs - 660 lbs females typically slightly larger. 


Crabeater seals live among the Southern Ocean and the surrounding islands. They migrate seasonally depending on pack ice location. 


They have a long snout and slender body with coloration fluctuating throughout the year depending on molt. After the molt their back is dark brown and fades into blonde by their bellies. 

Diet in the Wild:

Unlike their name, they do not primarily feed on crabs. Krill is their primary food source but they also will feed on small fish and other invertebrates. 


Crabeater seals are typically solitary animals and live on pack ice and are known for going on long dives and use the holes in the ice that Weddell seals have made to breathe. 


The Crabeater seals reproduce in Antarctica on the ice, rather than in water.  Like most seals, they breed during the early Spring months from October through December. Crabeater seals reach sexual maturity between 3-4 years. Females are most successful with births after 5 years of age. 

Conservation Status:

The Crabeater seal is one of the most populated species of pinnipeds. All seal hunting is regulated in the Antarctic region, and oil drilling is banned. 

Threats in the Wild:

 Environmental pollution, over-fishing krill and climate change are affecting the oceans quickly and dramatically. The krill may suffer in warmer waters and thick ice cannot be sustained with warmer climates thus threatening the livelihood of the Crabeater seal.

Fun Facts:

Crabeater seal teeth have are very complex and distinguishable. Each tooth has small bony protuberances with small spaces between them so when they close their jaw they can siphon the water out to strain the krill. 

Resident Animals: none