Weddell Seals: Calls

ambience: Female Weddell seal calls, Weddell pup calls

Atop the Ross sea ice near Turtle Rock in McMurdo Sound Antarctica, a baby Weddell seal calls out for its mother who’s far in the distance. Even though she can hardly make out the fine features of the little one, the mother knows instinctively that it’s her pup from the sound of it’s call. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Weddell seals have quite a repertoire of sounds according to Joe Waas in the Department of Biological Sciences at New Zealand’s University of Waikato.

“Well, they make an extraordinary number of different sounds. Somewhere between about 25 or 30 different sounds. In fact they’re one of the most vocal of all seals.”

We’re listening now to Weddell seals recorded below the ice.

ambience: Weddell seals underwater

“There are certain sounds they’ll only do below the ice. The males have certain types of calls that the females won’t use, like they have this very long, sort of downward trill sound that they produce and we think that that’s associated with attracting females to the territory and females might be able to tell something about the male from those calls because they go very, very low in pitch and it could be a way of advertising size. So the males can actually tell the females how big they are. And high-quality, large males would be potentially preferred by females. And the calls are also used, like that trill call is thought that it’s used to sort of defend the area against other males and, again, you can sort of tell the other males how big you are by how deep in pitch the calls can actually go.”

To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Weddell Seals: Calls

For Weddell seals, "every sound tells a story".
Air Date:07/15/2003
Scientist:
Transcript:


ambience: Female Weddell seal calls, Weddell pup calls

Atop the Ross sea ice near Turtle Rock in McMurdo Sound Antarctica, a baby Weddell seal calls out for its mother who’s far in the distance. Even though she can hardly make out the fine features of the little one, the mother knows instinctively that it’s her pup from the sound of it’s call. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Weddell seals have quite a repertoire of sounds according to Joe Waas in the Department of Biological Sciences at New Zealand’s University of Waikato.

"Well, they make an extraordinary number of different sounds. Somewhere between about 25 or 30 different sounds. In fact they’re one of the most vocal of all seals."

We’re listening now to Weddell seals recorded below the ice.

ambience: Weddell seals underwater

"There are certain sounds they’ll only do below the ice. The males have certain types of calls that the females won't use, like they have this very long, sort of downward trill sound that they produce and we think that that’s associated with attracting females to the territory and females might be able to tell something about the male from those calls because they go very, very low in pitch and it could be a way of advertising size. So the males can actually tell the females how big they are. And high-quality, large males would be potentially preferred by females. And the calls are also used, like that trill call is thought that it’s used to sort of defend the area against other males and, again, you can sort of tell the other males how big you are by how deep in pitch the calls can actually go."

To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music