Tons of seals here. When I arrived in late November, the seals around were mostly (southern) elephant seals and crabeater seals. Recently fur seals and Weddell seals have shown up. All along there has been the occasional leopard seal loner.
All the seals enjoy getting out of the icy water and lying on the relatively warm snow or land. They bask in air that's ungratefully cold to us. Many seals take the view that what Palmer Station residents believe to be a boat ramp is better thought of as a seal ramp.
The first seals I got a good look at were elephant seals. (People here call them ellies or, more recently, e-seals.) Young elephant seals are charming. Their fresh new skin is unscarred by predators or by fighting with other elephant seals. They seem wistful, like they miss their mothers. Like they wouldn't mind hanging out with us for company.
Soon their big gnarly cousins started arriving. They were scarred, shedding, combative. They uttered fart-like cries. They humped up the boat ramp and collapsed in big piles that looked snuggly until one of them woke up and randomly bit another one and they started fighting. (Blood on the snow! The sheathbills loved this.)
Less charming. Also the more elephant seals, the stinkier. Most importantly, the boat ramp was needed for launching boats, so science teams could go forth and gather data. The seals had to be persuaded to get off the ramp. This involved moving slowly toward them holding up tarps. They resented this, and roared and waved their heads around. Maybe the tarps, held high, made them respond as if to a Godzilla-sized elephant seal, because they would leave. Roaring and griping all the way.
Five minutes after a boat launched, they'd be back. Eventually a barricade was put up across the ramp. It was moved aside to launch a boat, then immediately replaced to keep seals from coming up the ramp again.
We miss the kids, though.