Without wanting it seals have played a key role in the discovery of Antarctica. Sealers discovered a lot of land and most of the islands during their predatory raids. The discovery and raiding of these new territories almost caused the extinction of certain seal species. Today seals are the only animal species specifically protected by international law, namely the “Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals“. Under this law, only a very limited number of seals may be caught for scientific research.
Antarctic seals consist of two families: true seals and eared seals. Of the eared family only the fur seal lives in Antarctica. In fact, sixty percent of all seals live in Antarctica. Seals manage to stay under water up to half an hour and they can dive to a depth of 500 metres.