Our Beautiful World

Scotia Sea
Part 5. The Great Marine Mammals

From a rearranged translation from Vladimir Dinets translation to norwegian, with supplements.

Click on flag for the original english version

South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens, Tierra del Fuego

The Great Marine Mammals

Different specimens of whales, dolphines, seals and other mammals are to be found in all the Oceans around the world,
as well as in lakes and rivers. However, there are few places you can see them in such great numbers. The most areas with high
biological activity is where warm and cold sea-currents meet. This is the case in Scotia Sea, where the icecold water from Antarctica
is mixed with the more warmer water in the Atlantic Ocean.

Some of the best places for viewing marine mammals are located around South America, from Ecuador and the Amazon
in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south.

dolphin dolphin dolphin dolphin dolphin dolphin
Dolphins of Chilean Channels, left to right: dusky, Lagenorhynchus obscurus, (2 photos), hourglass, L. cruciger, black, Cephalorhynchus eutropia, Peale's, L. australis, (2 photos).
Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego.

viewPygmy right whale Caperea marginata
is one of the world's
rarest cetaceans.
This is probably the only
photo in the wild.
Beagle Channel
The Chilean Channels, a vast labyrinth of islands and fjords stretching from Puerto Montt to Tierra del Fuego, is the best place to see some endemic cetaceans, such as black dolphin (above), and porpoises (Phocoena spinipinnis, Phocoenoides dioptrica).

Both whales and dolphines belongs to the cetaceans. The workd has both greece and latin origins,
and greske og latinske røtter,and means simply
Thanks to Taini og Mari
dolphin Peale's dolphin
Lagenorhynchus australis is oneof the two most
common species of
the Chilean Channels
(the other being bottlenose dolphin.
Tursiops truncatus.

ARKive video - Bottlenose dolphin - overview

Bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus - Overview
BBC Natural History Unit

Southern marine otter, Isla Chiloe..
The cutest inhabitant of the Chilean Channels is southern marine otter Lontra felina, locally known as chonguigo. It is the world's smallest marine mammal, the size of a large housecat. Ecologically, it resembles
sea otter , with its love for kelp beds and rocky shores. Pinguineria Pinihuil on the northwestern side of Isla Chiloe is probably the most reliable place to see the otters, better in late afternoon
at high tide.
bear bear
Southern marine otter, Isla Chiloe.

South American sea lions,
Otaria flavescens or Otaria byronia
Beagle Channel.
Sea lions and , Otaria flavescens
and imperial shags, Phalacrocorax atriceps,
Beagle Channel.

South American sea lions,
Beagle Channel.
South American sea lions, Otaria flavescens/Otaria byronia, are the most common pinnipedes on South American coasts. Large colonies exist everywhere from Peru and Uruguay to Tierra del Fuego and the Falklands. The easiest places to see them are Valdivia in Chile and Islas Lobos near Ushuaia, Argentina. The most predatory of eared seals, they often
hunt penguins and other seabirds. Males can be very aggressive - be extremely careful if
swimming with them. Their local name lobos marinos de un pelo, "sea wolfs with one coat", refers to lack of undercoat, unlike in lobos marinos de dos pelos - the fur seals.
South American sea lions,
Beagle Channel.

South American fur seals,
Beagle Channel.
South American fur seals,
Arctocephalus australis gracilisare
slightly more difficult to see, because they have smaller range, and their colonies are often on inaccessible rocky coasts. They can be seen together with sea lions and many seabirds on boat trips from Ushuaia. Larger colonies are scattered in Puerto Natales area of Chile, along the coasts of Argenitnian Patagonia and on the Falkland Islands.
seal seal
South American fur seals,
Beagle Channel.

Southern elephant seals
Mirouga leonina,
Valdez Peninsula.
On the Atlantic side of South America, Valdez Peninsula is the most popular place to look for marine mammals. seal
Coast of Valdez Peninsula,

Southern right whale,
Valdez Peninsula.
Southern right whales, Balaena australis, Southern elephant seals and killer whales can be seen here in spring
Southern right whale,
Valdez Peninsula

Commerson's dolphins,
San Julian, Argentina.

Southern right whale,
Valdez Peninsula

Beautiful Commerson's dolphins Cephalorhynchus commersoni, can be seen in many places along the coast of Argentina, but San Julian is the most reliable (January-March). They are very playful, and easy to approach in a small boat.

dolphin dolphin
Commerson's dolphins,
San Julian, Argentina.

Commerson's dolphin,
San Julian.
Southern elephant seals, Mirounga leonina,
Grytviken, South Georgia.
Commerson's dolphin,
San Julian.

The Antarctic is one of the best places to see wildlife, especially marine mammals and seabirds.
Unfortunately, it is also very expensive to get to, so let us continue our journey here on the web.

seal seal
Southern elephant seals, Grytviken, South Georgia.

Southern elephant seals,
Gold Harbour, South Georgia.
South Georgia is the most scenic of the Subantarctic islands, and it has the largest numbers of wildlife. In summer, 300,000 Southern elephant seals and two million Antarctic fur seals, Arctocephalus gazella, gather here.
Southern elephant seal,
Grytviken, South Georgia.

The Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella) is one of eight seals in the genus Arctocephalus, and one of nine fur seals in the subfamily Arctocephalinae. As its name suggests, the Antarctic fur seal is distributed in Antarctic waters. Around 95% of the world population breeds at the Island of South Georgia. It is named for the German naval vessel, the corvette SMS Gazelle, which collected the first specimen from Kerguelen Island. The species is also known as the Kerguelen fur seal.
This fur seal has a short and broad snout compared with others in the family. Adult males are dark brown in colour. Females and juveniles tend to be grey with a lighter undersides. Colour patterns are highly variable, and some scientists believe some hybridisation with subantarctic fur seals has occurred. Pups are dark brown, nearly black at birth.
About one in 1000 Antarctic fur seals are pale 'blonde' variants.

Males are substantially bigger than females. Antarctic fur seals grow 2 m (6.5 ft) long and weigh 91 kg (200 lb)
to 209 kg (460 lb).[2] Males live for about 15 years and females up to 25.

seal seal
Antarctic fur seals, Grytviken, South Georgia

seal seal
Antarctic fur seals, Grytviken, South Georgia.
The Antarctic fur seals were once thought to be extinct, following two centuries of slaughter. But they managed to survive on small inaccessible islets, and have repopulated most islands between 50
and 65 degrees s. lat.
seal seal
Fur seals sleeping in tussock grass, Grytviken. South Georgia

seal seal
Baby Antarctic fur seals, Elsehul, South Georgia

seal seal
Swimming fur seals,
Gold Harbour.
On South Georgia, fur seals prefer protected beaches and slopes covered with tussock grass (Parodiochloa flabellata). They are so numerous that some birds depending on tussocks for nesting have suffered noticeable habitat loss. Subantarctic fur seal, Arctocephalus tropicalis, below) is very rare on
South Georgia.
Weddell, Leptonychotes weddelli, and leopard, Hydrurga leptonyx, seals also occur here in low numbers.
seal seal
Charging fur seals,
Playing young male
Antarctic fur seals,
Grytviken, South Georgia.
Adult male Antarctic fur seal,
Elsehul, South Georgia.
Subantarctic fur seals are very

Humpback whale,
Megaptera novaeangliae,
off South Georgia.

Whales are abundant in summer around South Georgia, as well as along the coasts further south, all the way to the edge of pack ice and sometimes even further. As usual, humpbacks are the most fun to watch.

More pictures here (Google)
Humpback whale lobtailing,
off South Georgia

Megaptera novaeangliae (NOAA)

The humpback whale,
Megaptera novaeangliae, is a species of baleen whale. One of the larger rorqual species, adults range in length from 12–16 metres (39–52 ft) and weigh approximately 36,000 kilograms (79,000 lb). The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with unusually long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is an acrobatic animal, often breaching and slapping the water. Males produce a complex song, which lasts for 10 to 20 minutes and is repeated for hours at a time. The purpose of the song is not yet clear, although it appears to have a role in mating.

Found in oceans and seas around the world, humpback whales typically migrate up to 25,000 kilometres (16,000 mi) each year. Humpbacks feed only in summer, in polar waters, and migrate to tropical or sub-tropical waters to breed and give birth in the winter. During the winter, humpbacks fast and live off their fat reserves. The species' diet consists mostly of krill and small fish. Humpbacks have a diverse repertoire of feeding methods, including the bubble net feeding technique.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humpback_whale

Sei whale, Balaenoptera borealis, off Elephant Island,
South Shetland Islands.

Antarctic minke is the most numerous species. Fin-, Balaenoptera physalis,
and blue-, Balaenoptera musculus,
whales also make it all the way south.
Sei whales, Balaenoptera borealis,
occur no further than South Shetland Is, where all four can be seen together.

Antarctic minke whale, Balaenopter bonairensis,
off Coronation Island,
South Orkney Islands.l

Fin Whale from the air.
Photo: Protected Resouces Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California. swfsc.nmfs.noaa.gov/PRD/"

The fin whale,
Balaenoptera physalus, also called the finback whale, razorback, or common rorqual, is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales. It is the second longest whale and the sixth largest living
animal after the blue whale, bowhead whale, and right whales, growing to nearly 27 metres (88 ft) long.
The American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews called the fin whale "the greyhound of the sea" because of its
great speed when chased and slender build.

Long and slender, the fin whale's body is brownish-grey with a paler underside. There are at least two distinct subspecies: the Northern fin whale of the North Atlantic, Balaenoptera physalus physalus , and the larger
Antarctic fin whale of the Southern Ocean, Balaenoptera physalus quoyi .
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fin_whale

Balaenoptera musculus
Photo: Fred Benko - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Central Library.

The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales
(called Mysticeti). At 30 metres (98 ft) in length and 180 metric tons (200 short tons) or more in weight,
it is the largest known animal to have ever existed.

Long and slender, the blue whale's body can be various shades of bluish-grey dorsally and somewhat lighter underneath.[7] There are at least three distinct subspecies: B. m. musculus of the North Atlantic and North Pacific, B. m. intermedia of the Southern Ocean and B. m. brevicauda (also known as the pygmy blue whale) found in
the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean. B. m. indica, found in the Indian Ocean, may be another subspecies.
As with other baleen whales, its diet consists almost exclusively of small crustaceans known as krill.

Blue whales were abundant in nearly all the oceans on Earth until the beginning of the twentieth century.......
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_whale#cite_note-SearsCal02-26

Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis)

The sei whale, Balaenoptera borealis, is a baleen whale, the third-largest rorqual after the blue whale and the fin whale. It inhabits most oceans and adjoining seas, and prefers deep offshore waters. It avoids polar and tropical waters and semi-enclosed bodies of water. The sei whale migrates annually from cool and subpolar waters in summer to winter in temperate and subtropical waters.

Reaching 20 metres (66 ft) long and weighing as much as 28 tonnes (28 long tons; 31 short tons), the sei whale
daily consumes an average of 900 kilograms (2,000 lb) of food, primarily copepods, krill, and other zooplankton.
It is among the fastest of all cetaceans, and can reach speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph) (27 knots)
over short distances. The whale's name comes from the Norwegian word for pollock, a fish that appears off the coast of Norway at the same time of the year as the sei whale
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sei_whale

whale whale
Southern right whales,
off South Georgia..

Southern right whales, off
South Georgia. In January, 2005
there were large numbers of Southern right whales, Eubalaena australis, along the northern coast of South Georgia. This species has been very rare in the area since the 1850-s,
but is now making a slow 'comeback'
Southern right whales,
off South Georgia

Southern right whale, Peninsula Valdés, Patagonia, Argentina)
Photo: Michaël Catanzariti

The southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) is a baleen whale, one of three species classified as right whales belonging to the genus Eubalaena. Like other right whales, the southern right whale is readily distinguished from
others by the callosities on its head, a broad back without a dorsal fin, and a long arching mouth that begins above
the eye. Its skin is very dark grey or black, occasionally with some white patches on the belly.

The right whale's callosities appear white due to large colonies of cyamids (whale lice). It is almost indistinguishable from the closely related North Atlantic and the North Pacific right whales, displaying only minor skull differences.
It may have fewer callosities on its head and more on its lower lips than the two northern species.
Approximately 10,000 southern right whales are spread throughout the southern part of the Southern Hemisphere.

The maximum size of an adult female is 15 m (49 ft)[5] and can weigh up to 47 tonnes (46 long tons; 52 short tons).

Right whales cannot cross the warm equatorial waters to connect with the other (sub)species and (inter)breed: their thick layers of insulating blubber make it impossible for them to dissipate their internal body heat in tropical waters.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_right_whale

seal seal
Weddell seals, Hope Bay, Antarctic Peninsula.

seal seal
Weddell seals,
Hope Bay, Antarctic Peninsula.
Weddell seal is the seal species most often seen by tourists around the Antarctic continent.
It is mostly a coastal species,
and occurs further south than
any other mammal.

It is capable of deep dives,
and can chew its way through thick ice if necessary.

Usually it is very easy to approach
seal seal
Weddell seals,
Hope Bay, Antarctic Peninsula.

Weddell Seal in Adélie
Photo: Samuel Blanc.

The Weddell seal,
Leptonychotes weddellii, is a relatively large and abundant true seal (family: Phocidae) with a circumpolar distribution surrounding Antarctica. Weddell seals have the most southerly distribution of any mammal,
with a habitat that extends as far south as McMurdo Sound (at 77°S). It is the only species in the genus Leptonychotes, and the only member of the Antarctic tribe of lobodontine seals to prefer in-shore habitats on shore-fast ice over free-floating pack ice. Because of its abundance, relative accessibility, and ease of approach by humans, it is the best
studied of the Antarctic seals. It is estimated that there are approximately 800,000 individuals today.
Weddell Seal pups leave their mothers at the age of a few months. In those months they get fed by their mothers fat
and warming milk. They soon leave when they are ready to hunt and are fat enough to survive in the harsh weather

The Weddell seal was discovered and named in the 1820s during expeditions led by James Weddell, the British
sealing captain, to the parts of the Southern Ocean now known as the Weddell Sea.However, it is found in
relatively uniform densities around the entire Antarctic continent.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weddell_seal

seal seal
Crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophagus), Hope Bay, Antarctic Peninsula.

Lobodon carcinophagus, Crabeater Seal
National Marine Mammal Laboratory - http://nmml.afsc.noaa.gov

The crabeater seal
, Lobodon carcinophagus, is a true seal with a circumpolar distribution around the coast of Antarctica. They are medium to large-sized (over 2 m in length), relatively slender and pale-colored, found primarily
on the free floating pack ice that extends seasonally out from the Antarctic coast, which they use as a platform for resting, mating, social aggregation and accessing their prey.

They are by far the most abundant seal species in the world. While population estimates are uncertain, there are at
least 7 million and possibly as many as 75 million individuals. This success of this species is due to its specialized predation on the abundant Antarctic krill of the Southern Ocean, for which it has uniquely adapted sieve-like tooth structure. Indeed, its scientific name, translated as "lobe-toothed (lobodon) crab eater (carcinophagus)", refers specifically to the finely-lobed teeth adapted to filtering their small crustacean prey. As well as an important krill predator, the crabeater seal is an important component of the diet of leopard seals, Hydrurga leptonyx,
which consume about 80% of all crabeater pups.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crabeater_seal

Crabeater seal,
Bransfield Strait,
off Antarctic Peninsula.

Crabeater seal is the most numerous mammal in the Antarctic, but it prefers pack ice.
Ross' seal, Ommatophoca rossi, sticks
to even heavier ice, and is rarely seen. Leopard seal, a common sight in the vicinity of penguin colonies, feeds mostly on kryll, but don't get too close.
Leopard seal,
Hope Bay,
Antarctic Peninsula

Leopard seal, Hydrurga leptonyx
unknown photographer

The leopard seal, Hydrurga leptonyx, also referred to as the sea leopard, is the second largest species of seal in the Antarctic (after the southern elephant seal). It is most common in the southern hemisphere along the coast of Antarctica and on most sub-Antarctic islands, but can also be found on the coasts of southern Australia, Tasmania, South Africa, New Zealand, Lord Howe Island, Tierra del Fuego, the Cook Islands, and the Atlantic coast of South America.

It can live twenty-six years, possibly more. Orcas and large sharks are the only natural predators of leopard seals.

Along with all of the other earless seals, it belongs to the family Phocidae, and is the only species in the genus Hydrurga. The name hydrurga means "water worker" and leptonyx is the Greek for "small clawed".

The leopard seal is large and muscular, with a dark grey back and light grey on its stomach. Its throat is whitish with
the black spots that give the seal its common name. The overall length of this seal is 2.4-3.5 m (7.9-11.7 ft) and
weight is from 200 to 600 kilograms (440 to 1,300 lb).

The leopard seal's canine teeth are 2.5 cm (1 in).It feeds on a wide variety of creatures. Smaller seals probably eat mostly krill, but also squid and fish. Larger leopard seals probably switch from krill to more substantial prey, including king, adelie, rockhopper, gentoo and emperor penguins, and less frequently, other seals such as the crabeater seal.

Around the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, the Antarctic fur seal, Arctocephalus gazella, is the main prey. Other prey includes penguins and fish. Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, southern elephant seal, Mirounga leonina, pups and seabirds other than penguins have also been found in leopard seal scats in small quantities.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_seal

Blue whale, off Elephant I, S. Shetland Is.

End of Scotia Sea Adventure.

Back to Part 4.

All pictures, unless otherwise stated, Copyright © Vladimir Dinets


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