Weddell Seals at the Pressure Ridges

Nov. 25, 2013

Pressure ridges part 2- the seal!

We ran across a few weddell seals on our hike to the pressure ridges last week.

IMG_7715bHere are two seals napping on the sea ice

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We’re not allowed to approach the wildlife here because this continent is protected by the Antarctic Treaty and associated laws that preserve the environment, part of which includes leaving the wildlife alone. However, one of the weddell seals scooted right over to our path, kept taking little breaks, then continued to slowly scoot away, and I was able to film part of it with my camera.

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IMG_7553bThe seal from the video

There are about 800,000 weddell seals on Earth, most of whom live on the fast ice shelves surrounding the coasts of Antarctica. During the summer they slide up through holes in the ice and lounge around on top of the ice, staying warm with their thick layer of fat, but in the winter when there are no ice holes around, they use their teeth to chew holes through the ice so that they can reach the surface to breath. Seals are mammals, and Weddells are the southern-most mammals on the planet, with a habitat that extends towards the Antarctic shore more than any other type of seal (or whale, which are also mammals).

A while after filming the ‘scooting seal’, I spotted another seal napping on the ice and was able to get some beautiful close-up shots with a very long zoom lens on my camera.

IMG_7740bNice comfy nap on the ice

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IMG_7744byawn…

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IMG_7750b…and stretch

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I arrived in the Dry Valleys on November 19th and will write an update about my first week here soon. I won’t be able to see any more animals while I’m here in the mountains, because all of the animals in Antarctica get their food from the ocean and need to live near the coast, so it was great to get photos of the seals while I was still in McMurdo. Hopefully I’ll be able to see a few penguins when I arrive back in McMurdo again in February, but in the mean time I’ll spend the next twelve weeks camping in the mountains around Taylor valley, hiking and taking helicopters to different glaciers and streams in this region.

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Posted on 2013, in (Current) Season 3: Life in the Dry Valleys, 2013 (11/25) Weddell Seals at the Pressure Ridges. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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