Nov 17, 2016
I spent the day out on the snowmobiles with Elaine and fellow NSF Artist and Writer, Maris Wicks. Maris is a science cartoonist (www.mariswicks.com). While I was recording their voices, Maris was sketching. The Weddell seals make a wide range of sounds both above and below water. Everything from guttural growls and purrs to a high pitched squeal that sounds like a special effect from a 1970’s science fiction film. I could hear also a sawing sound as they chewed breathing holes in the sea ice. One mother and two pups had a long and rather heated conversation about whether it was nursing time or not. The mom was not impressed by the constant complaining of the pups.
Adult Weddell seals weight about 1000 lbs. About 4 inches of blubber encircles their body for protection against the cold. The pups weight about 60 lbs. at birth and quickly grow to 150-200 lbs. during a couple weeks of nursing. Meanwhile, the mother seals lose up to 40% of their body weight during the same period. Moms make enormous sacrifices for their children, no matter what the species.
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