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By Olaus Johan Murie
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Extra info for A Field Guide to Animal Tracks
Their dorsal fur is silvery-grey after moult and gradually fades to brown. The pale creamy white fur on the chest and abdomen extends to the sides of the face and above the ears. Juvenile and subadult males often have dark spots on their chest; this distinguishes them from females. As males age, these spots become larger and more numerous until 42 4 – Seals in Southern Australia the chest is completely dark. Adult males are grey (post-moult) to dark brown and black all over, with the exception of a creamy white cap extending from the eyebrow to the lower neck and shoulders.
Both sexes ‘sing’ to attract mates and mating events occur in the water soon after the pup is weaned. Tracey Rogers from Taronga Zoo and the University of New South Wales researched the singing behaviour of leopard seals. She found that females may sing for 3 days during the breeding season, whereas males sing almost continuously through the breeding period to maintain territories and maximise mating opportunities. The diet of leopard seals varies depending on what is available to them. Antarctic krill can form the bulk of the diet in some areas and fish are important in others.
Although most touch receptors of otariids are not merged, facial vibrissae (whiskers) are the exception. The vibrissae are stiff hairs associated with eyebrows (superciliary), the nose (rhinal) and the upper lip (mystacial). In pinnipeds, mystacial vibrissae are arranged in a series of rows, are heavily innervated (supplied with nerves), surrounded by blood sinuses (sacs) and controlled by voluntary muscles. They can sense sound compression waves, movement vibrations and water turbulence, and are likely to aid prey detection, particularly in low light conditions.
A Field Guide to Animal Tracks by Olaus Johan Murie