Ross seal

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The Ross seal (Ommatophoca rossii) is a true seal (family Phocidae) with a range confined entirely to the pack ice of Antarctica. It is the only species of the genus Ommatophoca. First described during James Clark Ross' British Antarctic Expedition in 1841, it is the smallest, least abundant and least well known of the Antarctic pinnipeds. Its distinctive features include disproportionately large eyes, whence its scientific name (Ommato- meaning "eye", and phoca meaning "seal"), and complex, trilling and siren-like vocalizations.

Taxonomy and evolution

The Ross seal shares a recent common ancestor with the other Antarctic seals, which are together known as the lobodontine seals. These include the crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophaga), leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx) and Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddelli).


Ross seals reach a length of about and weight of ; females are slightly larger at . Pups are about 1 m and 16 kg at birth. The coat is...
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