Named after a British seal boat captain, the Weddell is perhaps the best understood of the Antarctic seals. These seals have the most southerly distribution of any mammal and actually prefer to spend time on land, versus on pack ice or icebergs. Like leopard seals, they are quite large, growing up to 11 feet in length and weighing well over 1,000 pounds.
They are very approachable animals, though, which has helped scientists better understand them—but it also put them at risk in the 18th and 19th centuries when sealers hunted them. Weddell seals live in small groups, and during the harsh winter months they form even larger packs to better survive blizzards. Touring around Antarctica, you will likely see these beautiful animals lying on their sides as you approach shore, not seeming to care at all about your approach. They are adorable and docile, but please remember to always show respect and keep your distance, no matter how huggable they may look.