Monday, 15 June 2020


This little cutie is an Antarctic fur seal pup with his Mamma. They belong to the species Arctocephalus gazella and are pinnipeds that live in dense colonies alongside King Penguins. These two call the South Georgia islands home, as do 95% of the world's population.  

Though a wee pup, he can already recognize her voice from all the other lovely Mammas in his busy, noisy colony. Little ones left on the rocky shores while their mother is out hunting will raise their heads and listen out to identity their mother's voice and vocal pitch over the loud calls of all the other busy Mammas and penguins from the colony. If you look closely, you can see his wee little ears. Antarctic fur seals, unlike some other seal species, have visible ears.  

Seal pups stay with their mother, relying on her lactation milk to help them fatten up and grow healthy and strong. For the first four months of their lives, their mother will feed them on her rich milk, then head out to sea to forage for food. Once she's back, she'll call out to him and then give him a good sniff upon their reunion, the final confirmation for both parties that the right match has been made. The interaction between mother and pup is tender and heartbreakingly sweet to watch. She'll only give birth to one pup (two is rare) each October to December. Pups are born with a sheen of fur and grow their waterproof fur during their first months of life. 

When this little fellow grows up, he'll dine on fish, birds (including his penguin pals), squid and krill. Krill are small crustaceans of the order Euphausiacea that look like tiny shrimp. They look similar and are both crustaceans but shrimp hail from the suborder Natantia, order Decapoda and their hearts are located in their heads. I know, right? 

Krill live in all the world's oceans and sadly for them, they make a handy and tasty snack. They form an important part of the oceanic food chain. The krill feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton and then larger animals feed on the krill. 

"Krill" is Norwegian for "small fry of fish." They are small, indeed. But tasty, nutritious and easy to catch. Once this little pinniped pup is out hunting on his own, krill will make up the majority of his adult diet. He'll need our help to make sure he gets a steady supply. Krill are one of the casualties of ocean acidification from climate change. Hopefully, we'll do better so that he can, too!