Weddell Seal Pups

WEDDELL SEALS – Pups

music; ambience: Weddell seals

Right now it’s heading into summer in Antarctica, and we’re in McMurdo sound, due south of New Zealand. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
In Antarctica, this is the season for Weddell seals to give birth to and raise their pups.

“I’m standing on the sea ice in McMurdo sound in mid-November watching a group of Weddell seal mothers and pups.”

Doug Quin is a composer, acoustician and sound recordist who spent two months in Antarctica. He tells us that Weddell seals mated around last December, and their pups are being born right about now.

“The pups are newborns, some of them only a matter of days old, and others several weeks old and the calling that we’re hearing is the contact between mothers as they’re introducing their pups to the world of water beneath the ice. And for many of them, it’s a difficult struggle, diving and then trying to get back out up onto the sea ice which is at this point, in McMurdo sound, nearly seven feet thick.

“The sounds that you’re hearing are really what I look at as swimming training, because leaving home will come up in a few short weeks. And the pup is still nursing and hasn’t learned the basic skills of swimming, let alone hunting. The mother would call to the pup from a distance of several feet to encourage it to come up and out, but the pup didn’t have the strength to jump up out of the water and get a footing on the ice with its flippers. So the mother would call to it and then go back into the water, and call from in the water. In the end they succeeded, but it took nearly two hours.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Weddell Seal Pups

This month, Weddell seals are giving birth to their young and starting to give swimming lessons.
Air Date:12/30/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

WEDDELL SEALS - Pups music; ambience: Weddell seals Right now it's heading into summer in Antarctica, and we're in McMurdo sound, due south of New Zealand. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History. In Antarctica, this is the season for Weddell seals to give birth to and raise their pups. "I'm standing on the sea ice in McMurdo sound in mid-November watching a group of Weddell seal mothers and pups." Doug Quin is a composer, acoustician and sound recordist who spent two months in Antarctica. He tells us that Weddell seals mated around last December, and their pups are being born right about now. "The pups are newborns, some of them only a matter of days old, and others several weeks old and the calling that we're hearing is the contact between mothers as they're introducing their pups to the world of water beneath the ice. And for many of them, it's a difficult struggle, diving and then trying to get back out up onto the sea ice which is at this point, in McMurdo sound, nearly seven feet thick. "The sounds that you're hearing are really what I look at as swimming training, because leaving home will come up in a few short weeks. And the pup is still nursing and hasn't learned the basic skills of swimming, let alone hunting. The mother would call to the pup from a distance of several feet to encourage it to come up and out, but the pup didn't have the strength to jump up out of the water and get a footing on the ice with its flippers. So the mother would call to it and then go back into the water, and call from in the water. In the end they succeeded, but it took nearly two hours." Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.