Southern Elephant seals (Mirounga leonina)

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Antarctic seals

Antarctic seals

Elephant seal pups are born in the Antarctic spring. Like many Antarctic seal pups, they stay with their mother increasing rapidly in weight while the mother gets progressively thinner. Eventually the mother has to feed and teach the pup how to feed too, by which time the pup is quite large and well developed.

The pups are very dark at birth and have quite delicate flippers with long elegant nails that they scratch themselves with quite precisely. Weddell seal pups are like big mobile unstuffed pyjama cases with the personality of a reckless 4 year old. Fur seal pups are like small terrier puppies, bouncy and bold. Elephant seal pups on the other hand are like little old men, very precise and somewhat gnome-like, a stage that they grow out quite rapidly as they become teenagers (in elephant seal years that is).

Photo; © Paul Ward