Weddell seal project researchers are investigating whether Weddell seal pups that spend more time in the water learning to swim with their mothers have a higher probability of surviving to return and have pups of their own. Weddell moms spend a lot of time with their pups coaxing them into the cold Antarctic water and helping their pups get in and out of the water as they learn to swim. During this time, Weddell pups are also nursing and gaining substantial weight from their mothers' rich milk before they are weaned and left to fend for themselves.
In this video shot on location in Antarctica, Montana State University ecology professors Bob Garrott and Jay Rotella talk about the swimming behavior of Weddell seal pups and the competing hypotheses they are investigating by studying pup swimming activity as part of the ongoing population and mass dynamics research of the project. More information at http://WeddellSealScience.com