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What are some facts about sea elephants?

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Quick Answer

Sea elephants, or elephant seals, exist in two species, the northern elephant seal and the southern elephant seal. The southern elephant seal is the largest type of seal on Earth.

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Full Answer

Hunting almost caused the extinction of the seals in the late 19th century. Since then, however, numbers have recovered. The northern elephant seal lives on the Pacific coast of North America in Mexico, the United States and Canada. The southern elephant seal is found in various places around the southern hemisphere, including New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.

The sea elephant was named after the large snout on adult males that resembles the trunk of an elephant. The snout is used to produce extremely loud roaring noises. These noises are very common during mating season. The snout's main use, however, is to help the seal reabsorb moisture when the animal exhales. This process is also of importance during mating. During mating season, sea elephants do not enter the water to feed and must conserve their body moisture due to the lack of incoming water.

Sea elephants eat other animals, including squid, large fish and cuttlefish. They feed in the deep sea and spend around 90 percent of their time underwater. Many of their dives can last for 20 to 27 minutes and are as deep 300 to 800 meters.

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