Mummified seal - Dry Valleys

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Mummified seal dry valley

The Dry Valleys have a number mummified seals despite being a long way from the sea. Weddell seals and Crabeater seals are found as far as 40 miles from the sea and at altitudes of up to 5000 feet. They often appear to be quite recent though carbon dating has shown them to often be hundreds or even up to 2600 years old.

No-one is knows exactly how these seals end up in the Dry Valleys, though most of them are juveniles, under than a year old. They probably take the wrong direction while trying to migrate north as winter arrives and start to accidentally head inland. Some seem to be heading for glaciers, so maybe once lost, they see the ice and start to head that way so determining their fate. Calculations have shown that one seal enters the dry valleys in this manner once every 4 to 8 years.

More on the Dry Valleys

Photo; Mike Usher - Pictures from an icebreaker cruise to Eastern Antarctica.