Our Latest News

Mt Strzelecki walk back on track

28/06/2019

Flinders Island's Mt Strzelecki walking track has received an upgrade which will improve the experience for walkers and visitors, as well as environmental management.More

New car park for Ben Lomond National Park

28/06/2019

A new visitor carpark is now complete at Ben Lomond National Park. The car park will be opened to visitors and fully operational in the coming weeks in time for this winter's first major snow fall.More

Planned burn success on Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area sites

28/06/2019

The Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area experienced significant wildfire events between January and March this year, yet there are still areas that require pro-active fire management for the protection and conservation of the area's values.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.