Observations on the distribution of Weddell seals in the vicinity of Casey Station were made from a helicopter November 5, 1998. This is during the pupping season. The weather was sunny, wind 15kts, and time 1300 hours.
In the area of the Windmill Islands, from the Vanderford Glacier to Donovan Islands, we counted 168 adult seals, 130 of which (77%) were in Penney Bay in the vicinity of Herring ... Island and Peterson Glacier. The seals in Penney Bay were pupping. Within Penney Bay, there were 115 mother-pup pairs at Little Herring Island, seven mother-pup pairs at Herring Island and nine mother pup pairs at the ice cliff on the eastern side of the bay. The other 38 adult Weddell seals seen in the area were hauled out alone or in pairs. They were on the sea-ice around the coast and islands throughout the Casey area (see map). The fast-ice off the Windmill Islands was minimal except in Penney Bay, which is a deep bay in the lee of Browning Peninsula. A lot of ice was blown out from the Windmill Islands the day before the survey. Two mother-pup pairs were sighted on ice floes so it appears that some Weddell seals at the Windmill Islands did not pup on stable fast-ice. Never-the-less, there were a similar number of breeding animals (130 pups) at the Windmill Islands as at the Vestfold Hills (140 pups). It's just that at the Windmill Islands they are all congretated in one bay.
We also flew north of the Windmill Islands over Peterson Bank, which was covered by an extensive sheet of fast-ice through which icebergs protruded, at least one per square kilometre. Presumably the icebergs were grounded on the bank and the permanancy of the icebergs stopped the sea-ice from being blown away. This relatively stable sea-ice seemed to be good habitat for Weddell seals. The ice surface was accessible through cracks around the icebergs, and there were Weddell seal breeding colonies consisting of 10 - 15 mother pup pairs at every fourth or fifth iceberg over Peterson Bank. Helicopter time was limited, and the area of fast-ice was vast, so the abundance of seals in this area was not quantified. There were probably several thousand seals in the area. By comparison, the fast-ice north of the Vestfold Hills has not been surveyed in the pupping season.
This metadata record is part of ASAC projects 89.