Crabeater seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) breathing through tide crack

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Antarctic seals

Crabeater seals probably got their name because of a mistake by the early sealers who went down to the Antarctic. They actually eat krill, the staple diet of much of Antarctica's bird and mammal population. In fact there are no crabs at all in Antarctic waters, and very few Decapod Crustaceans either of any sort such as lobsters.

Crabeater seals are uniquely adapted amongst seals in that their teeth are adapted to form a sieve in a similar manner to the baleen plates of the great whales. They take a mouthful of seawater and krill and expel the water through gaps in their teeth while the parts that overlap prevent the krill from escaping. Each seal consumes about 20kg of krill per day, and a quick bit of maths calculates that between them, crabeaters eat 1 million tonnes of krill per day! That's an awful lot of little shrimps! Crabeater seals are circumpolar living all around the edge of the Antarctic continent.

Photo; © Paul Ward