What Sound Does a Seal Make?

Joe Busby/CC-BY-2.0

A seal makes a sound that is a mixture of a bark and an eerie whaling sound, depending on the species of seal. Sea lions are known to bark whenever they come out of the water as they snort to clear their nostrils.

The Weddell Seal has 34 different kinds of calls and can be heard for more than 15 miles underwater. Male seals use their sounds as a way to establish who will do the most mating in the group of seals, or harem. Males first create a low-frequency sound with a guttural noise. Then the males will sometimes engage in a bloody physical attack to determine who is dominant.

The vocalizations made by mothers and their pups are important, as the pups learn to recognize their mothers and other seals through these sounds as well as sniffing. In the wild, there is often the threat of the mother and pup getting separated due to stormy surf conditions or territorial disputes, so they need to be able to recognize one another’s call in order to find each other again.

Seals are large marine mammals and belong to the pinnipedia group, which is a suborder of the order carnivora. Seals, sea lions, fur seals and walrus are all pinnipeds and part of the pinnipedia group.