Ross Seal Pictures

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Ross Seal Photos Showing This Rarest of the Antarctic Seals

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The Ross seal, Ommatophoca rossii, is a small, rarely seen seal that breeds and rests on Antarctica pack ice comparatively far, for seals, from the water's edge. They have a loud call that is often likened to a siren. They have short gray hair and short whiskers, and large eyes. Ross seals are among the smallest species of seal, reaching a maximum of eight feet 98 and a maximum weight of 474 pounds. Males and females are roughly the same size. They have short heads and thick necks, and their teeth are small and needle-like for grasping slippery prey. They have the shortest fur of any Antarctic seal, and color ranges from silvery-white to dark gray or chestnut brown. They have light colored undersides and may have streaks of dark color on their face and neck. Eyes are large for aiding in location of prey in deep, dark waters.

Ross seals primarily eat squid, plus other cephalopods, fish and krill. They typically forage at depths of 100 to 200 m, but may go deeper, especially at twilight. They have been spotted out in the open ocean, far from pack ice. When pack ice is plentiful, they like to haul out at mid-day, and they spend most of the night foraging. While considered an Antarctic seal, isolated individuals have been observed on the coasts of New Zealand and southern Australia. Ross seals are preyed upon by killer whales and leopard seals.

Population counts of the Ross seal in the 1990s were in the range of 40,000-56,000, making them the rarest of Antarctic seals. They are currently listed by the IUCN Red List as Least Concern, but shrinking of pack ice in the future may affect their numbers.

The Ross seal was named for British explorer, Sir James Clark Ross, who charted much of the Antarctic coastline in 1839 and 1840, and who discovered the species. The Ross Sea, Ross Island and the Ross Ice Shelf also bear his name.

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picture of a Ross seal   picture of a Ross seal illustration  

Picture of Ross seal, Ommatophoca rossii, rarely observed and circumpolar; lives on dense consolidated pack ice, King Haakon Sea, East Antarctica

Picture #: 009080


Image of Ross seals, Ommatophoca rossii, illustration

Picture #: 094064



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