Crabeater seal

Lobodon carcinophagus

schematic of skull

its most unusual mulltilobed teeth enable it to sieve krill from the water

it looks like a perfect strainer, but how they do it in detail is still unknown

the food of crabeater seals consists 98 % of Euphausia superba

they consume over 120 million tonnes of krill each year

they live and reproduce in the pack ice zone around Antarctica.

The crabeater seal is one of the most remarkable, though least known, of the mammals of the world. Its population probably numbers between fifteen and fourty million animals, making it one of the most abundant large animals in the world. More than one in every two seals in the world is a crabeater seal and the population biomass of crabeaters is about four times that of all other pinnipeds put together (BONNER 1995)

Females up to 200 cm length and 227 kg

Crabeater seals colonized Antarctica during late Miocene or early Pliocene (15 - 25 million years ago), at a time when the region was much warmer than today. The evolution into this also so strange, successfull and abundant animal can be taken as a token for the bounty and continuity of their food krill


BONNER B 1995 Birds and Mammals - Antarctic Seals. in Antarctica Pergamon Press 202 - 222