Ice and Medicine at the end of the earth

23. What kind of seals live around McMurdo?

Jenna,

Of 35 known seal species, only six live in Antarctica!  The seals have finally made an appearance around McMurdo.  They chew a breathing hole in the ice and are often found relaxing near these holes.  I have only seen the Weddell seal, which I believe is the most common seal in the McMurdo Sound area.  They can reach a size of 400 to 450 Kg.  They are able to stay under water fishing for up to one hour.  From far away, they look like massive slugs.  But they are actually very cute and interesting animals up close.

The female seals give birth in the McMurdo spring which is now.  They are pretty cute!!

Other seals found in the area (that I have not yet, and will likely not see) include the Crabeater Seal, Antarctic Fur Seals, Ross Seals, Southern Elephant Seal and the Leopard Seal. Only four of these are considered true Antarctic seals as the Fur Seal and Elephant Seal prefer the warmer waters of the subantarctic seas.

Some interesting facts:  Crabeaters eat Krill, not Crab!   The leopard seal feeds on penguins and small crabeater seals and are very rarely seen on land/ice.  They weigh up to 1,200 pounds (540 Kg).  The male elephant seal can reach 4 Tons.  Watch out for them!  Fur Seals are the only Antarctic Seal with an ear flap.  The fur seal population was in jeopardy in the 1900s when it was hunted for its long fur.  It has made a come back in recent years.  Little is known about the Ross Seal as it hangs out on the pack ice where it is difficult to set up research stations.

Info from:  http://www.antarcticconnection.com/antarctic/wildlife/seals/index.shtml

Pictures are taken by me.

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