Weddell seals are currently hauled out into the Long Fjord area north of Davis research station. Their final 2018 survey was completed recently, with summer field biologists Kris and Erica surveying a long-term monitoring area to add to our knowledge of abundance, distribution and phenology (the study of life events and their influence by seasonal changes) of the local breeding population.
Some spectacular Davis weather provided perfect survey conditions, with 178 seals, including 66 pups, recorded on the fast ice near their access holes. Some pups are now getting quite large — stacking on several kilograms a day (!) from their mother’s rich milk — and will soon be weaned.
Weddell seals have been tagged in the Vestfold Hills during previous studies, and sightings of these beautiful tagged animals provide some valuable insights into individual survival, breeding and movement.
Over the course of an exhausting 10-hour day, five tagged seals were spotted, and photographs of the small tags taken to help obtain the unique ID number. After consulting the tagging records back on station, one of the seals spotted last week was tagged in 1987 and is now 31 years old!