Seals and Penguins

Caution, this post contains graphic images.

The seal just off the trail to Lost Seal Creek.  I am told that this seal has been carbon dated at 2,000 years ago.  I salute this fellow on my frequent trips to the Lost Seal gauge.

I am told that this seal carcass just off the trail to Lost Seal Creek has been carbon dated to 2,000 years ago. I salute this fellow on my frequent trips to the Lost Seal gauge.

There are a number of penguin and seal carcasses in the Taylor Valley. (I don’t know if penguin and seal carcasses are found in other of the Dry Valleys.)  On my previous visit in 2003 I saw a penguin carcass near Blood Falls.  (That carcass is now covered by the rising waters of Lake Bonney.)  This is nearly 20 miles, as the crow flies, from the nearest point on the Ross Sea.   I’ve seen a seal carcass at House Creek, above Lakes Hoare and Chad, about twelve miles from the sea.   These animals are superbly adapted to water; the leopard seal, in particular, is one of the most effective predators in the ocean, only surpassed by the killer whale.  Why do such animals travel these distances, over rugged rocky and ice-covered terrain?  I have no idea, and it seems no one else does, either.  It is a mystery.

Here are images of some penguin and seal carcasses in the Taylor Valley.

There is a seal carcass on top of the Commonwealth Glacier, 100 or more meters above the bottom of the Taylor Valley.  How did that seal get up on the glacier.  The most commonly held belief was that the carcass was placed there by Navy helicopter pilots to see if they could mess with the minds of the scientists.

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