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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

An Elephant Seal Pup Nurses

Air Date: Week of

An elephant seal pup (Photo: Mark Seth Lender)

Elephant seal milk is high in calories, well-suited for feeding fast-growing pups in a short amount of time. Living on Earth’s Resident Explorer Mark Seth Lender observes an Elephant Seal mother off the coast of Antarctica nurse her hungry pup, and finds the infant’s cries somehow familiar.


CURWOOD: We stick with Elephant Seals but head to the far Southern Ocean and South Georgia Island with our resident explorer Mark Seth Lender. There he came across a breeding colony of these mighty creatures with many mothers and pups and found them both foreign and, somehow, familiar.

Elephant seal family (Photo: Mark Seth Lender)

Elephant Seal Pup Nursing
Godthal, South Georgia Island
© 2016 Mark Seth Lender
All Rights Reserved

LENDER: For the lifelong have-no-child-ers, the live-alon-er’s, the penultimate one-room-dwell-ers waiting for that Bell to Toll; for the married men with a man-cave in the cellar who’ve never ever changed a diaper - even for them - the sound of this Sounder is as Family and Familiar as a -

Come on over and bring the kid, the young’un, your new baby! Boy, she’s got a set a lungs, gonna sing the whole La, La Traviata a regular concertina you just wanna squeeze her we’ve got the Queen of – Everything – right here

The softer features -

The small pink tongue that cups at the edges -

Yes. You know. You right-off recognize the raspy waller of an unanswered caller who can and will just like that - Allllll day (until he gets his always, hungry, way).

The pup nurses (Photo: Mark Seth Lender)

Newborn Baby Elephant Seal raises a tireless commotion loud as the Soundings of the Southern Ocean. Baby’s Mamma? She just wants to sleep. Respite and relief don’t stand a chance against the Need that Will Not Keep. She gives in, and slides her wide webbed flipper off the teat that her own may take of rich, warm, drink.

Now before us all the stages, hauled out along the shoreline the quickly passing ages, parents and the young, the newborn and the old they will become. The needful and the needed, the suckling and the satisfaction that justifies -

All this.

To our surprise –

- We recall -

- We recognize -

(As the Flower Knows the Seed)

The babe all babies used to be.



Mark Seth Lender’s website

Learn more about elephant seals on the National Geographic website


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