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Antarctic Animals--Weddell Seal Pup
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Antarctic Animals--Weddell Seal Pup

July 12, 2010
Antarctic Animals--Weddell Seal Pup An Antarctic Weddell Seal Pup rests on the ice. Weddell seals can reach almost 10 feet in length and nearly 1,000 pounds. At two weeks of age they begin to lose their gray coat and over the next month their coat becomes similar to an adult's. They are the world's most southerly mammal. This image was taken by researchers working on the "seal cam" project, an on-going National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported project where scientists use seals as "eyes" to see what goes on underneath the Antarctic ice. [Image 1 of 7 related images. See Image 2.] More about this Image Researchers Lee Fuiman from the University of Texas, Austin, Randall Davis from Texas A&M University, Galveston, and Terrie Williams from the University of California, Santa Cruz, equipped 15 Antarctic Weddell seals with video cameras, infrared LEDs and data recorders. As a result, they've gained new insight into the habits of two very important Southern Ocean fish species: the Antarctic silverfish (Pleurogramma antarcticum) and the Antarctic toothfish (Pagothenia borchgrevinki). The seals--marine predators--serve as guided, high speed, midwater sampling devices for fish that have been especially difficult to study. New information about the behavior and distribution of these species indicates that some existing theories may need to be revised. Although seal cam has its limitations, it is a promising technique and could be used to study other pelagic and deepwater fish and invertebrates that are otherwise impossible to observe in their natural environment. This work was supported by grants from NSF's Office of Polar Programs (OPP 96-14857, OPP 97-08151 and OPP 96-18384) and by the West Coast office of the National Undersea Research Program (UAF 02-0080). (Year of image: 2001)