Crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) on ice floe

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Antarctic seals

These are crabeater seals, probably the most numerous large mammals on earth after humans. These are resting on a large ice floe floating in broken summer ice near the Antarctic peninsula. Though they are so numerous, it is unusual to see many crabeater seals together as they live almost their entire lives on and amongst floating ice. For this reason also, it is difficult to estimate their numbers, but by 2000 there were thought to be about 50 million.

Crabeaters are large seals of about 220kg (484lb). They are frequently scarred, sometimes quite badly by predatory leopard seals or killer whales. Crabeaters are fairly solitary, and the males and females are about the same size as the males do not need to be large to compete for a harem of females as in elephant and fur seals.

Photo; © Paul Ward