Tag Archives: leopard seal

A Peek at the Hectic Lives of Antarctic Seals

This morning we woke up to find an Antarctic fur seal napping on the rocks about a hundred yards from our front door. It was a welcome surprise—we had seen fur seals on our visit to Livingston Island on January 1, but this was their first visit to Palmer this season. They tend to show up at Palmer each year during late summer, and their appearance is a sign of the season moving on.

Photographer Chris Linder rushed out to catch the furry animal on film, although he didn’t really need to rush. It was still in pretty much the same spot tonight at 9:00 p.m. We’ve now seen the five main Antarctic seal species within just a few miles of Palmer Station—and the main thing we’ve noticed is these animals are good at lounging. Their lives may be hectic under the water, but once they “haul out” on rock or ice, it’s mainly snoring and the occasional scratch of the head. Click through the slideshow to get introduced to each of the five seal species:

A Seal That Isn’t a SealRulers of the Pack IceThe Better to See You With“Nature’s Snakes” A True AntarcticanLoud, Lounging ElephantsA Minor DisagreementWho Goes There?

Here’s a short recording of the group of southern elephant seals that were napping in photo #6 in the slideshow. The background hiss is the sound of the seals breathing in and out as they sleep. From time to time you’ll hear abrupt snorting sounds that are either rude or humorous depending on your point of view.

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What Do Whales, Seabirds, and Seals All Have in Common?

Tuesday was a day off for the staff of Palmer Station. The day was sunny and calm—perfect conditions for a favorite off-duty pastime called recreational boating. We boarded a zodiac with station staff including the carpenter, logistics supervisor, satellite communications engineer, and utility mechanic. We loaded up with sunscreen, donned sunglasses against the brilliant white light, and pulled on orange float coats for safety. Everyone had a camera at the ready, and we set off to explore icebergs and islands.

For us it was a great introduction to the animal inhabitants of Palmer Station. We saw mammals, flying birds, flightless birds, and even a small but indispensable animal that keeps the whole ecosystem ticking. Can you guess what it was? Join us on our zodiac tour in the slideshow below, and find out the answer at the end:

Queen Elsa’s CastleThe Science Team’s “Castle” More Than Meets the EyeMy, What Big Teeth You HaveLunch Buffet Is OpenThe Adelie Penguin Colony in Our BackyardThe New ArrivalsEnter the HeavyweightsThe Currency of Life in Antarctica

Because krill are at the heart of the food chain, scientists pay a lot of attention to them. Krill are also at the center of Project CONVERGE. The team wants to know whether tides and convergence zones help bring together krill into concentrations high enough to serve as feeding hotspots for penguins. Radar helps the team map the currents and convergence zones. But how do they find out where the krill are? In our next post, we’ll go out with the scientists to answer that question.

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