Weddell Seal (Leptonychotes wedelli)
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The top picture is of a juvenile Weddell seal
weaned from its mother about 2 or 3 months previously and already
completely in control in its aquatic environment.
scene a few months ago was rather different though. Weddell
seal pups don't automatically realise that they can or should
dive and the early attempts are amusing to watch. "Attempts"
is probably the wrong word. What actually happens is that the
mother pushes the pup into the water against its will. She then
pushes its head under the water - again against its will. There
is much coughing, spluttering and panic before the pup realises
that it can hold its breath under the water and that this in
fact does help! The pups soon get the hang of it though and
as adults will dive to up to 600 metres (2 000ft) or more staying
under for up to an hour and going as much as 12 kilometers from
the breathing hole. A typical feeding dive takes the seal to
200-400m and lasts for 5-25 minutes. The second picture
shows how unaffected by humans Antarctic wildlife is!
Photo; © Paul Ward