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Monday, February 13,2012

Elephant Seals Swimming Deeper as Waters Warm

Elephant seals are in it deep due to climate change ... deep in the ocean, that is. Elephant seals from Marion Island in the southwest Indian Ocean are swimming farther beneath the surface as their prey also moves into cooler, deeper waters.

"This prey is moving down to greater depths, presumably due to the increasing water temperatures, and this is forcing the seals to follow them," explained Horst Bornemann from the Alfred Wegener Institute, in a press release.

Bornemann and colleagues from the Mammal Research Institute fit more than 30 southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) with satellite transmitters. The transmitters are glued like beanies to the seals' heads. They measure dive depth, water temperature, and salinity on every dive, then beam that information to the marine biologists via satellite.

The results show that the seals dive deeper in warmer water.


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