Australia’s King Island Welcomes First Elephant Seal In 200 Years

The island’s seal population was wiped out by hunters back in the 1800s

Exciting times on King Island this week with the first elephant seal on the island in around 200 years!

Southern elephant seals used to breed regularly on King Island, but were wiped out in 1800s when they were hunted for their oil.

Scientists believe the two-month-old female came from nearby Macquarie Island, the closest breeding ground.

‘‘Every now and then we do get a female that is in the Tasmanian area and they have to give birth around September because they’ve mated the year before,’’ Marine Conservation Program wildlife biologist Sam Thalmann told The Examiner.

‘‘Elephant seals return to the area where they were born, it will take many, many years for a population to build up but we certainly think this is an encouraging sign.’’

The southern elephant seal is the largest of all seals, with adult males weighing in at as much as 3,700 kilograms.

The two main Australian populations are found on the northern beaches of Macquarie Island and the eastern area of Heard Island.

Female southern elephant seals have been known to dive as deep 1,600 metres while hunting for their favourite foods which include squid, octopus and fish.

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