Ross Seal

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Ross Seals (Ommatophoca Rosii) get their name from the early Antarctic explorer, Sir James Clark Ross. Not only are Ross Seals the rarest of the four species of seal that breed in the Antarctic, they are also the least studied, due in part to the remoteness of their habitat and the exorbitant costs associated with operating in the region. They fall under the protection of the Convention for Conservation of Antarctic Seals as well as the Antarctic Treaty. Other environmental measures, such as banning the use of pesticides or drilling for oil in the Antarctic, have also played a role in protecting this usually solitary animal.  
BREEDING
Because of their extreme geographical location and isolated distribution, there is not a particularly large amount of information on these seals. It is believed that their breeding season takes place in the Antarctic summer, from November through till early January. 

Ross seals tend not to breed too close to the edge of the pack ice, presumably because this area is the realm of predators such as the Leopard Seal.

Pups, which are born with a dark fur dorsal side and a lighter underbelly, are nursed for only a very short time, between 2 and 3 weeks. Gestation period for these seals is estimated to be around nine months. Mating is thought to take place ten days after giving birth.

Pups weigh in on average around 27kg and measure just over 1m at birth. Adult males are (unusually) smaller than their female counterparts, measuring around 2m and weighing roughly 180kg. Females can measure up to 2.4m and weigh around 210kg. It is thought that females reach sexual maturity at between 3-4 years and males at between 4-7 years. The oldest recorded male lived to 21 years.  

Interesting Stuff
Ross Seals are also known as "Big-Eyed Seals"

It is the only species of seal whose range is 100% confined to the Antarctic. 

These seals not only have a proportionately small mouth, but they have the shortest hair out of all the seal species. 

When calling for a mate or if they feel threatened, Ross seals will make a warbling or trilling sound. 

Ross seals have small backward facing teeth which enables them to get a good grip on slippery prey such as squid.

Ross Seals are slow and sluggish on land and they crawl forwards by dragging themselves over the ice with short black claws. 

Interactions with humans have been very limited though a few antarctic expeditions have collected specimens to form part of scientific collections. 

Their range does not overlap with commercial fisheries and as such they are possibly the only species of seal not to be under threat from entanglement. 





Ross Seal assumes a stereotypical pose

Ross Seal assumes a stereotypical pose

Male Ross Seal assumes a stereotypical pose

Ross Seal Female

Sketch of a Ross Seals skull
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