The Antarctic is home to six species of seals, and every one of them in some ways needs protection for their survival. Leopard, Weddell, Ross, Elephant, Crabeater, and Fur are all native to the icy waters of the Antarctic. And the ten thousand seals that live in the Southern Ocean are all battling to survive. The Southern Ocean makes up around ten percent of the world’s oceans, and it is known for being one of the harshest environments for seals to survive in the world. Although these fantastic creatures have adapted to survive, they still need help.
The Leopard Seal has razor-sharp teeth set in massive jaws, and they normally hunt on warm-blooded prey. They love birds, penguins, and other seals. But they are also happy dining on fish, cephalopods, and fish. Leopard Seals need increased marine protection so that they can continue to balance the delicate ecosystem of the ocean.
Weddell Seals spend most of their time under the water where they like to feed on crustaceans and fish. They use their sharp teeth to make holes in the ice to act as breathing holes. Scientists have yet to discover the best ways of preserving these creatures but ensuring their food supply is constant is one.
The Ross Seal is a fairly solitary creature, and they love to live on densely packed ice that is hard to get to. Obviously due to global warming this environment is becoming under threat and so is their survival. Scientists believe that these seals feed as far as several hundred feet below the surface and their eyes have adapted to see in such murky waters.
Because Elephant Seals have limited movement on the land due to their massive size, they obviously need space. But they are undoubtedly the top diving seals in the whole seal world and can stay under the water for up to two hours. Their blood that pumps around their circulatory system actually accounts for twenty percent of their massive weight.
As strange as it sounds these seals don’t actually dine on crabs, in fact most of their diet consists of krill. Which makes them extremely vulnerable due to the declining population of krill in the oceans. At one time Crabeater’s were once thought to be the most abundant of all. But climate change is changing all that, as the melting ice is contributing to reduce the krill population the Crabeater Seals feed on.
Antarctic seals keep warm in a different way to other species, and this is especially so with Fur Seals. And when underwater their fur creates an extra pocket of air that acts as extra insulation. When they come back on land, they can also dry out much faster than other seals. Again, because their food source is mainly krill these creatures are also in serious danger of extinction.
The key to survival of many of these seals is the continuation of the food source, and in particular krill. But with global warming affecting this part of Antarctica, all this seems to be a really difficult task to overcome. There needs to be a network of protected areas in the Southern Ocean that can provide food and an environment these creatures can survive.