Monday, March 19, 2012

Crabeater Seal

Lobodon carcinophagus
The Crabeater Seal is an incredibly abundant species that can be found throughout the Antarctic waters. It is estimated that there are literally millions, if not tens of millions of these guys swimming around, which is a huge contrast to some of the other Seals we've talked about that are on the brink of extinction.

What makes Crabeater Seals so successful? Well, they have incredibly specialized teeth that allow them to strain out Krill and other small critters. (Interestingly, they don't eat crabs!) Those tiny crustaceans are very abundant in the Antarctic waters, giving the Seals a huge food source. They are able to dive down several hundred meters in search of prey, and can hold their breath for over 10 minutes. (Though dives are typically much shorter and more shallow)

Crabeater Seals also have a pretty unique family group. Most seals mate, and then the male leaves and has nothing to do with the pup and female. Crabeater males hang around and defend the female and her pup until the pup is completely weaned. Another interesting tidbit about these guys is that the males and females are very similar in size, unlike the extreme sexual dimorphism found in some other Seal and Sea Lion species.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Antarctica
Size : Body Length up to 7.5ft (2.5m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata--  Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Superfamily : Pinnipedia -- Family : Phocidae -- Genus : Lobodon -- Species : L. carcinophagus

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