Posts Tagged ‘leopard seals’

More Leopard Seals in the Antarctic

February 20th, 2010 at 8:56 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Among the plentiful life we found in Sandefjord Bay yesterday were a fair number of leopard seals, most of whom were resting on an ice floe in the middle of the bay. You may recall my post about the leopard seals we had previously encountered, but all of those were in the water.

The leopard seals on the ice floe provided us with an excellent photo opportunity, as well as to study them in greater detail.

Leopard seals, just resting

Leopard seals, just resting

Among the things we noticed:

– Leopard seals are true carnivores. We could tell this because they have no molars, just pointy sharp flesh-rendering teeth. Their diet consists primarily of krill with penguin as a bonus (75% krill, 25% penguin, or so).

And here's the tongue as well - note the slick bottom side of the seal where moisture has flattened the fur, making it almost look bald

And here's the tongue as well - note the slick bottom side of the seal where moisture has flattened the fur, making it almost look bald

– Their fur becomes slick when wet. This was apparent when they lifted their bodies and we could see fur sticking up/out where they were dry, while on the part resting on the ice, the fur texture was not apparent, making them look shaved or bald (when in fact the fur was just slicked down).

– They really do have a very reptilian head.

– They are large and beautiful creatures (but I wouldn’t want to be swimming with one or have it think I was a penguin).

It may look like the seal is smiling, but I think it's looking at us and thinking 'dinner'

It may look like the seal is smiling, but I think it's looking at us and thinking 'dinner'

Many more photos I took of the leopard seals yesterday beyond those above can be seen on my Flickr pages, in significantly higher resolution.

 

Penguins and Fur Seals Everywhere

February 20th, 2010 at 2:56 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Yesterday afternoon we arrived at the western end of the South Orkney Islands, more particularly at Coronation Island and the area known as Sandefjord Bay. And all this is still in what is officially deemed by treaty to be Antarctica.

As I previously related, the waters were alive with Chinstrap penguins, porpoising out of the water non-stop. Well, there was a reason for that. The land around the bay is teeming with life, mostly in the form of perhaps a half million Chinstrap penguins and thousands of fur seals.

In fact the land was so heavily populated that we had no place to make landfall, and instead took an hour and a half Zodiac tour of the area.

To give you an idea of how populated the bay was, below is a panorama of 11 photos of just one small part of the bay.

A panorama of a small part of the land around Sandefjord Bay in the South Orkney Islands featuring hugs numbers of Chinstrap penguins and fur seals

A panorama of a small part of the land around Sandefjord Bay in the South Orkney Islands featuring hugs numbers of Chinstrap penguins and fur seals

This small image, however, doesn’t easily show the tens of thousands of penguins on the rocks. To see those you really need to click on the above image, at which point you will get to a Flickr page where you can see a larger version of the image (still not enough good detail though). From there, click on the “original” link and you will be able to access the original panorama, which is 13,447 pixels across (about 11-13 times the width of the average computer display these days). Or you can click here for the Flickr page giving you that option.

Either way, if you do look at the detailed image look closely at the tops of the tall hills on the right side of the image. The little bumps on it are also penguins. No idea how they got up that high, but they are everywhere!

It’s a really rocky day here at sea as we head to South Georgia today, but we’ll try to get a few more posts up later today.