Thursday, October 18, 2012

Puppin'

Tagging a new pup (Thierry supervising on left, Eric watching and learning from Jess, who is tagging the seal, and Darren keeping an eye on the mom) - All Weddell seal images obtained under NMFS Permit No. 17236
Thus far this season, we have tagged 70 new pups, and in any condition you could dream of, except tropical.  We are on the up-curve of the pupping rampage, which means that every day from here until, say, early to mid November, more and more moms are appearing on the ice and giving birth.  It's a fascinating event to watch; the writhing, wiggly bag-o-bones pup endures any and all conditions that Antarctica throws at it, and the mom seems to just lay there passively, patiently next to the pup to nurse, never leaving its side.  In about 35 days, that will all change, and the pup's perspective on life will alter drastically!

Getting the birth weight.  We will also get a mid-lactation and a weaning weight to track the pups mass gain from the mom (Jason and Eric weighing, Jess in background)

6 comments:

  1. That must be very nutritious milk! Did you ever wonder what it tastes like?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very high fat milk! Something like 42% fat...that's what I need to be drinking every day. And I have always wondered what it tastes like...half tempted to actually find out...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Scratch that, it averages at about 48%...maximum 60% (beginning of nursing) down to 30% (towards weaning)!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, I just looked up whipping cream and it is 36%, tops. Stir in some sugar and vanilla, chill to desired consistency, and you'd have some awesomely rich ice cream. No wonder the pups thrive on it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Marianne Riedman studied elephant seal milk and found herself so attracted to its creamy white color, "like rich vanilla ice cream," that she couldn't resist tasting it.

    "The milk did not taste like ice cream or anything else I had eaten before," she reports in The Pinnipeds. "It had no sweetness but rather a nutty blandness and a waxy texture, probably due to its abundant fat."

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow, there's an answer for everything. Thanks for getting back to me on that.

    ReplyDelete