Natural History Magazine: Mother Nose Best

Fur Seal Pup

Fur Seal Pup

Mother Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) alternate between nursing their pups for one or two days and then leaving them to spend days at sea hunting for food. When they return to their breeding grounds, they are confronted with the task of finding their young among thousands of pups. They use vocalizations primarily to locate their pups and scent for close-range recognition. Exactly what part of the pup’s scent, or chemical profile, the mother uses for recognition has in the past been difficult to ascertain, as an animal’s chemical fingerprint comprises a complex array of molecules. Read More.