Seal of approval for dive project

A Weddell seal with an icefish in its mouth, in a dive hole
A Weddell seal shows off its icefish catch to divers preparing to use their dive hole (Photo: Helena Baird)
A Weddell seal with an icefish in a dive holeA Weddell seal with an icefish in its mouth within a dive hole

A Weddell seal gave Antarctic divers a surprise this week when it surfaced in a dive hole and showed off its catch of icefish.

Scientist, Dr Helena Baird, is part of a team undertaking an ocean acidification experiment under the sea ice at Casey station, and was lucky enough to capture these photos of the cheeky seal. 

"Weddell seals spend much of their time under the ice as this offers them protection from larger predators like leopard seals and orcas," Dr Baird said.

"Dive holes drilled through the sea ice offer a free breathing hole for Weddell seals, which usually have to dig such holes with their teeth.

"After we'd shovelled accumulated snow out of the hole, this friendly seal popped up to show us his tasty lunch - a large and unhappy icefish, or ‘Antarctic cod’. The seal proceeded to play with his meal for another minute before heading back underwater and gulping it down, leaving a few scales floating on the surface." 

The scientific dive team is currently scoping out a site to install four underwater chambers on the seafloor to conduct experiments on the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels on marine ecosystems. 

Find out more on the project website and the weekly blog from the field.