Photo by Liam Quinn.

You could probably intuit that climate change would threaten seal pups, being as how they’re vulnerable critters who require cold climates. But just in case you had doubts, new research has arrived to tell you that yup, Antarctic fur seal pups are screwed.

Seal pups in their early months have very high energy requirements — they have to devote a lot of energy to growing and learning. But as Antarctica becomes windier and wetter due to climate change, more and more of the baby seals’ energy budget may have to go towards keeping warm.

By studying the energy requirements of Antarctic fur seals, researchers discovered that, despite climate models showing an increase in temperature, the windier and wetter conditions predicted for Antarctica may lead to lower survival rates for the seal pups. Essentially, the pups may have to allocate more energy to staying warm and less to growth and, ultimately, their survival.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

It seems ironic, but overall global warming will mean more snow and higher winds in the seals’ native habitat. Even if the temperatures aren’t lower, wind and water sap heat that the pups need to live. Which means that they’ll have to divert energy resources towards maintaining their body temperatures. All in all, this could spell seal pup doom.

As you can see above, baby Antarctic fur seals have a sort of natural patheticness. So I propose we put one on a leash and walk it around the Capitol, with a looped recording saying “why don’t you want me to liiiiiiiive?”

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.