Sound flags
This journal is brought to you by:

  • Ms. Allen and Ms. Boccuzzi’s 3rd grade students at Germantown Elementary
  • Ms. Gwendolyn Calleo’s Pre-k class at Georgian Hills Elementary
    Crosswind Elementary Students:

  • Ashton Boyle in 2nd grade

  • Maeve Allen in 2nd grade at Crosswind Elementary
  • Reese Webber in 4th grade at Crosswind Elementary
  • Lucas Boyle in Kindergarten at Crosswind Elementary

Sound flags
This journal is brought to you by:

  • Mrs. Shadensack’s and the 100th class at Immaculate Conception in Illinois
  • Taelyn McChriston
  • Bricks & Minifigs of Arlington, TN
  • Emma, Ella, and Chad Higdon of Hernando, MS
  • Alice Higdon
  • Gracie McDuffy
  • Kaleigh Gardner
  • Derek Gardner III
  • Connor Gillespie
  • Carter Gillespie
  • Katelyn Gardner
  • Gage McDuffy

Sounds of the Weddell Seal

Since exploration began in Antarctica, explorers and scientists have been in awe of the sounds of the Weddell seal. In 1820, James Weddell (who the Weddell seal is named after) said that he heard a ‘mermaid…making a musical noise.’

That ‘mermaid’ was none other than a Weddell seal!

You’d think a picture of a Weddell seal making sounds would include a photo of a seal with its mouth open.

Like this...

Seal pup crying
Seal pup making some noise. Photo credit: Alex Eilers, MMPA permit #17411.

But most of the unique sounds I’ve heard have come from seals looking like this...

Seals sleeping
I wonder what the seals could be trying to communicate in their sleep. Photo credit: Alex Eilers, MMPA permit #17411.

Sleeping!?!

Of all the seal species, Weddell seals are the most vocal. Scientists have identified and named 34 different types of Weddell seal sounds. We hear them talking quite a bit. Sometimes they are so loud that you can hear them under the ice!

But what are they saying?

Most Weddell seal calls are used during social activities, like breeding. During breeding season, you can hear up to 20 calls per minute! Male Weddell seals are much more vocal than the females. Some calls are used to attract a female; others are to threaten another male. After the breeding season, they are much quieter.

What does a Weddell seal sound like?

Weddell seals make the weirdest, often eeriest sounds.

They sound like something you would hear in a science fiction movie – not something coming from this animal!

Take a listen!

Sound names

Scientists have come up with different names for these sounds, and the names are as outrageous as the sounds!

Here are a few examples:

  • Chi-chi-chi
  • Teeth clatter
  • Mew
  • Guttural glug
  • Jaw claps
  • Too-loo
  • What-chunk

Now you try it!

Listen to these sounds and try to match the sound with the name. Send your answers to ‘Ask the Team.’

Seal sound 1

Seal sound 2

Seal sound 3

Seal sound 4

Seal sound 5

Seal sounds 1-5 credit: Weddell Seal Science

Author
Date

Comments

Artie Guttensohn

1) How long does Mama seal nurse the pup? 2) How long does it take for a pup to reach adulthood? 3) What characteristics of the pup define that it has reached adulthood? 4) Is it possible for a female seal to ever deliver twin pups? 5) Typically, how much size difference is there between a male and female Weddle seal? Ms.Alex: You have done a tremendous job in educating all us about Weddell seals as well as the penguins of Antarctica , congratulations on a well done effort...you are to be commended !

Clayton Robert…

When does a pup make its first sound?

Clayton Robert…

When does a pup make its first sound?

Alex Eilers

Hi Artie!
You ask some great questions... and thank you for you nice comments as well.

I will answer each question below...

A - 1) Seals typically nurse their pups for about the first 6 weeks of life. After that the pups are pretty much on their own.

A - 2/3) Adulthood - at least for females - is usually determined by the ability to produce an offspring, which typically occurs around 6 years of age.

A - 4) It is possible for a female seal to ever deliver twin, however it is very rare.

A - 5) A number of factors that affect the size of an animal, but if we compare a typical 'skip' females (one that skipped a breading cycle) to a typical male, they would be approximately the same size, with the female tipping the scales slightly.

Hope to see you soon!

Alex
________________________________________