Meet Our Seal Pups!
It is time to introduce you to the real stars of this project – our seal pups! Like most animals, seal pups have different personalities, and we start to see these more and more clearly when we visit them week after week. We decided to name our pups after different types of penguins. If you’d like to learn more about penguin species, you can check out this website: HERE
Emperor is our heavyweight champion. He was our biggest pup at one week old, and he has continued to outweigh our other seal pups. (Emperor penguins are the largest and deepest diving penguins in the world.) Emperor is growing up so quickly…he was the first of our seal pups to molt his fur, and he seems to have more muscle and less blubber than the other pups. He has been spending a lot of time in the water with his mom, so he is probably a great swimmer already!
Adelie is a feisty little pup, and she and her mom like to hang out at the far end of Big Razorback Island, among the beautiful ice formations created by the pressure of the sea ice pushing against the island. (Adelie penguins are relatively small and very active penguins. Unlike many other penguin species, they spend their whole lives in Antarctica.) Though Adelie still has most of her baby fur, she has developed an impressive set of chompers, which Weddell seals use not only to eat but also to keep their breathing holes open.
Rockhopper earned her name because she especially likes hanging out in sea ice cracks with her mom. She has a really thick blubber layer, and may not have been swimming as much as some of our other pups. She hasn’t started working off that baby fat yet, but we expect to see her in the water soon.
Gentoo is one of our more gentle pups. He has recently begun taking swimming lessons with his mom, though he seemed to want to avoid getting his face wet, like most kids! Even though Emperor is our biggest seal, Gentoo had the thickest blubber layer at 3 weeks old. He’ll be using some of that fat to stay warm during these early swimming lessons.
Macaroni earned her name because she really likes nursing upside down and curled up in a curved shape next to her mom. At one week, she was a bit of a floppy noodle, but she is growing up fast. She has been on some short swimming trips with her mom, and has started to lose her baby fur around her neck and shoulders.
King acted a little bit like a naughty prince at one week old, but now that he is older he has begun to act more like royalty. He has been away on swimming trips more often than our other animals at Turtle Rock, so we haven’t seen him as much as the others.
Chinstrap has one of the strongest personalities. He likes to chew on his flippers, or just about anything else he can get near his mouth. His mom has been on a lot of foraging trips without him, and he seems reluctant to join her in the water; but he’ll have to start learning to swim soon!
Little Blue is our smallest pup. (Little Blue penguins, also known as Fairy penguins, are the smallest penguin species.) Little Blue may be small, but he has the most protective mom! She has started teaching him to swim, and does not stray far from his side even when she leaves to forage on her own. Of all our pups, Little Blue seems to like being near us when we are working, and has taken the time to check out the seal sled and our boots.
We have another month to interact with these pups, who are growing so fast and changing every day! By seven weeks old (the last time we will see them), they will be on their own; so they have just a few more weeks to learn how to live on their own. With the little time we have left here, every encounter with them becomes more and more important. We’ve had so much fun watching these little guys grow up. I’ve become quite fond of them (it’s hard not to), and each one holds a special place with me. I will truly miss them when our fantastic adventure here comes to an end.
Written by: Heather Liwanag