ANTARCTICA

By Cody And Lochlan

The Weddell Seals are native to the South Pole or the Antarctic. They live Mainly in the icy cold Arctic water. The Weddell seal lives further south than any other mammal. They live in the McMurdo Sound which is located 800 miles from the South Pole. During the winter, other Arctic animals migrate farther North to keep warm. Unlike the other mammals, the Weddell seals live below the ice in the winter to keep warm. Before they make their way into the water for the winter, the Weddell seals make air holes that allow them to exit the ice in warmer weather.They are found usually in large groups on fast pack ice The Weddell seals are able to survive in the cold water because of their blubber and extra fat layers.


Genders

The male and female Weddell seal are similar in appearance, although the female may be slightly larger . For most of the year the plumpness of the body makes the head of this species appear disproportionately small, although body weight fluctuates widely between seasons . The front flippers are relatively short , and bear large black claws, which may aid in gripping the ice. There is a distinct tail . The Weddell seal is one of the noisiest seal species, and has an extensive underwater repertoire, with at least 34 different call types recorded, including whistles, buzzes, tweets and chirps. The calls show some regional variation, and are usually audible from some distance, and even from above the ice.

Baby Weddell Seals

Weddell seal milk is one of the richest produced by any mammal. It contains about 60% fat (go and compare that to the label on the milk carton in the fridge) and it is this that is responsible for the rapid weight gain made by pups shortly after birthThe pups are weaned (stop drinking milk and begin eating normal seal food, i.e. fish) at around 7 weeks when they should have reached about 110kg (242lb). When adult, they will weigh up to 400kg (880lb) and be up to 3m (10ft) long. Unusually, the males are slightly smaller than the females. Pups are encouraged into the water very early on by their mothers, perhaps only a week or so after birth. The water is their natural habitat and with their thick protection of blubber is a more comfortable place to be most of the time for these seals than out on the ice where the temperature can be -40° C or less with winds frequently of gale force or greater.