Crabeater Seal

Crabeater Seal

Mammalia

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: crabeater seal
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Pinnipedia
FAMILY: Phocidae
GENUS SPECIES: Lobodon carcinophagus

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: The crabeater seal is a slender, streamlined seal with silvery gray to whitish fur and a long, slightly upturned snout. Younger crabeater seals have small specks and webs of brown or dark gray over much of their dorsal side. Pups are grayish brown with very light scattered spots.
SIZE: Both males and females may reach 2.6 m (8.53 ft.) in length
WEIGHT: Weigh up to 225 kg (496 lb.)
DIET: Mainly feeds on krill (a shrimp-like crustacean)
GESTATION: Approximately 11 months for total gestation, with a 2.7 month period of delayed implantation
ESTRAL PERIOD Typically 4 days after weaning
NURSING DURATION Approximately 14-28 days (average 17 days)
SEXUAL MATURITY: 2-6 years
LIFE SPAN: May be up to 39 years
RANGE: Lives in and around the Antarctic
HABITAT: Inhabits pack ice
POPULATION: GLOBAL Unknown, but in the millions
STATUS: IUCN Lower Risk/least concern
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed

FUN FACTS

1. Crabeater seals belong to the scientific order Pinnipedia, which includes seals, sea lions, and walruses.
2. Seals differ from sea lions in a number of ways, including having no visible earflaps.
3. Antarctic seals tend to have longer, more pointed foreflippers than northern phocids.
4. Their unique teeth allow crabeater seals to strain krill out of seawater.
5. Crabeater seals are unique among phocids in that this species forms family groups consisting of an adult female, her pup, and an adult male. The male usually joins a pregnant female shortly before or after the pup's birth and remains with the female until after the pup is weaned and mating occurs. During the time a family group is together, the adult male defends the female and pup from other adult males.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

Many crabeater seals often bear scars from leopard seal and, to a lesser extent, from killer whale attacks.

Scientists consider crabeater seals to be the most abundant of any pinniped species.

Antarctic seals, including the crabeater, leopard, Weddell, Ross, southern elephant, and Antarctic fur seals, are protected by the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bonner, N. Seals and Sea Lions of the World. New York. Facts on File, Inc. 2004.

Byrum, J. Pinnipeds From Pole to Pole: Seals, Sea Lions and Walruses. SeaWorld Education Department Publication. San Diego. SeaWorld, Inc. 2000.

Jefferson, T.J. Leatherwood, S. and M.A. Webber. FAO Species Identification Guide. Marine Mammals of the World. Rome. FAO, 1993.

Larws, R.M., Baird, A. and M.M Bryden. "Breeding season and embryonic diapause in crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus)". Reproduction. 126: 365-370. 2003.

Nowak, Ronald M. (ed.). Walker's Marine Mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Parker, S. (ed.). Grizmek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol. IV. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., 1990.

Reeves, R. R., Stewart, B.S., Clapman, P.J., and J.A. Powell (Peter Folkens illustrator). National Audubon Society: Guide to Marine Mammals of the World. New York: Random House, 2002.

Reeves, R.R., Stewart, B.S. and S. Stephen. The Sierra Club Handbook of Seals and Sirenians. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1992.

Ridgway, S.H. and R.J. Harrison (Eds). Handbook of Marine Mammals: Volume 2: Seals. London. Academic Press, 1981.

Riedman, M. The Pinnipeds: Seals, Sea Lions and Walruses. Berkeley and Los Angeles. University of California Press. 1990.