January 14, 2009
I was walking down the beach this afternoon, resighting banded penguins, when I almost tripped over a penguin that didn’t move out of the way. On closer inspection, it had a large bite wound on its leg which was still bleeding, which could only mean one thing: Leopard Seal attack! I looked out to sea, and, right on cue, a seal surfaced next to the beach. Aha. What happened next was entirely unexpected, though. The seal crawled out of the water, and, as I watched, climbed a few hundred yards up a cliff, huffing and puffing the whole way, before going to sleep among a bunch of curious penguins. When Michelle saw it, she immediately corrected me – it was a Crabeater Seal, an odd sighting here this time of year, and very unusual to see one crawl up on land.
Crabeaters don’t eat penguins, though (actually they eat krill, shrimpy-looking things), which means there was probably a Leopard Seal around the beach today, too, and we hypothesized that this seal crawled out of the water to escape the Leopard, which will eat smaller seals. Whatever the reason, it slept there all afternoon. We also saw Killer Whales and Minke Whales offshore today, making a mammal-rich day at Cape Crozier!