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Warming Oceans Force Seals to Dive Deeper for Food February 17, 2012
Satellite Image
An elephant seal tagged with instruments to help scientists monitor its travels and dives.
At least one species of seal is now having to dive deeper in search of food due to higher ocean temperatures resulting from climate change, researchers say.

Scientists from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research tagged more than 30 elephant seals with instruments that measured their dives, which can go to depths of up to 6,500 feet.

They found that the marine mammals now have less time to search for food when submerged due to the increased depth they must dive to reach cooler waters.

The researchers caution that seals around Marion Island, in the southern Indian Ocean, are now reaching their physiological limits when diving.

This may lead to fewer of them being able to survive in the new, warmer environment.

Photo: Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research