Comprised of 33 different worldwide species, seals give birth on land, have bodies insulated by blubber and are wild animals that will bite when approached too closely. Seals’ whiskers are sensitive to the detection of prey, but nothing keeps them safe from their own predators. No matter their location, the enemies of seals are animals that work diligently to consume them as food.
The primary prey of polar bears is the ringed seal. As the most common seal in the Arctic, ringed seals grow up to 4 feet in length. When the seal surfaces to breathe at openings in the ice and at breathing holes, polar bears seize their prey. Not only are seals vulnerable when they come up for air, but polar bears also catch them by pouncing from 20 feet away.
Though it is not a new ecological trend for seals to exist as prey of killer whales, they have devised a specific way to work as a group to catch a loafing seal. When a seal lackadaisically floats along on a chunk of ice, also called a floe, groups of whales pump their tails in sync to generate a wave that forces the seal into the sea. Once in the water, the whales relentlessly hunt the seal down, dismember and share it.
Situated near Cape Town, South Africa, Seal Island is a three-square-mile piece of land that is occupied by masses of Cape fur seals. As a direct result, white sharks display different predatory behaviors when in pursuit of their prey. One strategy used by the white shark is targeting young seals while another is targeting seals off alone or in small groups of two to six. White sharks also leap partially or completely out of the water during its attack on a seal.
In an act likened to cannibalism, seals are also prey to other seals. The leopard seals have a diet filled with a diversity of animals such as penguins, fish and other seals. The menu of the leopard seal includes crab-eater seal pups and Antarctic fur seal pups.