Research Update: Young Weddell seals need to practice navigating before hunting
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RESEARCH UPDATE: Young Weddell seals need to practice navigating before hunting

National Science Foundation
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Posted June 28, 2021

According to a new NSF-funded study from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) (, Weddell seal pups may be one of the only types of seals to learn to swim from their mothers.

Unlike most seal species where pups are nursed for approximately 4 weeks on land and do not enter the water until after being weaned, Weddell seals stay with their mom for 6 - 7 weeks. Using tracking instruments, the team measured how deep the pups dove and what time of day. Next, researchers compared the data to what they knew about the behaviors of the moms during the same time period. The data showed that pups were in the water at the same time as their mothers, likely meaning that the moms were teaching the pups how to survive in the extreme Antarctic environment.

Learn more about the research and results at

Photo credit: Linnea Pearson. This image was taken under NMFS permit #21006-01 and ACA permit #2018-013 M#1.