Seals & walrus
Your image of cuddly seals is sure to change in the Polar Regions. There are tooth-raked bull elephant seals, ferocious, shark-mouthed leopard seals and the blubbery walrus with its fearsome, metre-long tusks.
Elephant seals are found in Patagonia and the South Atlantic archipelagos. True to their name, males are up to 6m long with trunk-like noses. Leopard seals live around the Antarctic Peninsula, where they hunt penguins and other seals, as well as fish and seabirds. Diving trips reveal these master predators in action. Atlantic fur seals are cuter – especially the tiny pups, which can be seen in December and January. Over a million of them breed on the island of South Georgia alone.
Up in the Arctic, the walrus – with its whiskery moustache and old-man skin – has been anthropomorphised in contemporary and traditional culture. Their tusks help them haul their bodies – up to 3.5m long – out of the water and onto slippery ice. They are also used as dangerous weapons by territorial males. Walrus can be seen in Canada, Greenland, Russia and Alaska– often drifting on ice floes.