Cow-Pup Behaviour of the Weddell Seal, Leptonychotes Weddelli (Pinnipedia), in Mcmurdo Sound, Antarctica.
RA Tedman and MM Bryden
Australian Wildlife Research
6(1) 19 - 37
Study was of the behaviour of 9 marked female Weddell seals, Leptonychotes weddelli, and their young in a colony of 35 to 40 such pairs at Turtle Rock, McMurdo Sound, off Ross Island, Antarctica. The young sucked first about 80 min after birth. Sucking was usually initiated by the young seal, which had to raise its head to reach either of the 2 nipples. After sucking for 10 to 20 sec the young seal dropped down to the ice and waited for 1 to 2 min before sucking again. It was not clear whether the young seal had to rest after supporting itself or whether it had cleared the milk from the gland cistern and had to wait while milk from alveoli and ducts refilled the cistern. For young more than 1 week old there was a diurnal pattern of sucking with peaks between 1200 and 2359 h and least between 0300 and 0600 h. When the young began to swim they used more energy, stored less fat and sucked less. Early swimming, resulting in lower bodyweight at weaning, could affect survival during the following winter. Published values for bodyweight increments of growing seals are given. Young Weddell seals accumulate less fat than some species but learn to catch food before they are weaned.
Full text doi:10.1071/WR9790019
© CSIRO 1979