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Science & Technology

A hunter called seal

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Jun 15, 1999 | From the print edition

There is more to the seemingly-nave Antarctic seal than meets the eye. Marine biologists who have been investigating the animals' feeding habits say that seals are fierce and cunning predators. Terrie Williams of the University of California in Santa Cruz and her colleagues strapped video cameras on the backs of four Weddel seals that hunt under the ice to study their behaviour. The scientists observed the seals flushing out small fish hiding in loose ice by blowing bubbles at them. "They eat these little fish like hors d'oevres," Williams pointed out. The main course comprised metre-long cod, which they attacked from below, wrestling their catch to death on the ice. Says Williams: "I have a whole new appreciation for the seal. It is like a lion"

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