What were the crabeater seals doing with what have they been compared?

Answered by Michael Wilson

Crabeater seals, which are found primarily in the Antarctic region, have a fascinating feeding behavior that sets them apart from other Antarctic birds and mammals. These seals are known as krill specialist feeders, meaning that krill is their primary source of food.

To understand how crabeater seals feed on krill, it is important to first understand what krill is. Krill are small, shrimp-like crustaceans that form large swarms in the ocean. They are an important part of the Antarctic food chain, serving as a vital food source for many species, including whales, penguins, and other seals.

Crabeater seals have evolved a unique adaptation for feeding on krill. Unlike some other Antarctic predators that rely on chasing and catching their prey, crabeater seals have a specialized tooth structure that allows them to filter krill directly from the seawater.

When feeding, crabeater seals swim through massive swarms of krill with their mouths open wide. The seals have complex teeth that are specifically designed for filtering out the krill from the seawater. These teeth are interlocked and form a sieve-like structure, allowing the seals to trap the krill while expelling the excess water.

The feeding technique of crabeater seals has been compared to that of baleen whales, which also feed on krill. Both crabeater seals and baleen whales rely on filtering large volumes of water to capture their tiny prey. However, while baleen whales have baleen plates in their mouths that act as a filter, crabeater seals use their specialized teeth.

It is worth mentioning that despite their name, crabeater seals do not actually eat crabs. Their diet consists almost exclusively of krill, with some occasional fish and squid. The name “crabeater” is believed to have originated from the observation of their tooth structure, which somewhat resembles the teeth of crabs.

Crabeater seals are krill specialist feeders with a unique adaptation for filtering krill from seawater. They swim through massive krill swarms with their mouths open wide, using their specialized teeth to sieve the seawater and capture the krill. This feeding behavior has been compared to that of baleen whales, although the seals rely on their teeth rather than baleen plates.