Two months ago, in August, I have been whalewatching for Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) 20 miles offshore Santa Barbara, and I had the chance to see 6 Blue whales in an area less than 1 Km2 wide, between the coast and the Santa Barbara Channel islands. It was quite windy and the sea was rough, but we had the chance to spend one hour with the whales, and it was a great experience. Personally, I have been whalewatching in many places around the world, including Antarctica, and I have never seen so many Blue whales altogether, in a relatively small area. We were onboard the catamaran Condor Express. Among the group of Blue whales there was also a mother and a calf.
Maybe, the Blue whale killed by a large ship was one of the individuals we had the chance to watch last August. That's why this is a very sad news for me. The Blue whale body stranded on the beach is a very sad sight. The Santa Barbara Channel is an extraordinary and "relatively safe" reserve for many species of whales; large ships should therefore pass offshore the area, to avoid accidents like this one. Whales are not aware of shipping lanes!
Blue whales have been under heavy hunting pressure for almost 200 years and were hunted almost to extinction: they now deserve safe heavens where to breed, feed and just swim into the big blue ocean.



Santa Barbara Independent Assistant Web Editor.

September 20, 2007

By Ben Preston (Contact)

Although blue whales are making a remarkable recovery from the devastation meted out during the peak whaling years of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the endangered species still occasionally runs afoul of human activities. The blue whale found dead in the Santa Barbara Channel on Tuesday, September 11 was confirmed to have been killed by a large vessel traveling through the shipping lanes in the channel.

Researchers from the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, working with the Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) and the County of Ventura Public Works Department, performed a necropsy on the whale, burying under the beach at Faria County Park what remains weren’t kept for research. According to Paul Collins, the Natural History Museum’s curator of vertebrate zoology, relatively minor exterior lacerations were seen initially. However, as the research team peeled back layers of blubber and delved deeper into the carcass of the deceased animal, significant bruising, many broken vertebrae, and a severed spinal cord confirmed that it was killed by a ship. “The abdomen was full of blood from major damage to the organs,” Collins said. “These fresh bleeds were consistent with a ship strike.”

Collins explained that they received a call from a research vessel from Oregon — which was tagging blue whales for tracking purposes — that one was floating in the channel near the northwest end of Santa Rosa Island. A National Geographic film crew was aboard and filmed the sighting, including underwater shots that showed several sharks feeding on the underside of the carcass. “During the necropsy, we measured one shark bite as being 22 inches across,” Collins said.

Although Collins and his team were alerted to the animal’s presence on Tuesday, it took until Wednesday evening to gain the permits required from the National Park Service to land the whale on Santa Rosa Island. By that time, it had washed all the way to Ventura County and onto the beach at Hobson’s County Park. The necropsy indicated that the animal had been dead for almost a week and a half.

Collins’s necropsy team was comprised of himself, Sausalito Marine Mammal Center veterinarian Frances Guillard, CIMWI president Sam Dover, his vice president Greg Cocklin, and the Natural History Museum’s entomologist, Michael Caterino. Collins recalled a dead whale he worked with in 1980 at Hollister Ranch, saying it took nearly a month and a half to remove the skeleton. “Heavy equipment certainly helps,” he said, referring to the machines provided by public works. “We couldn’t have gotten the head off in this amount of time without it.”

The skull and much of the skeleton of the whale — described by Collins as a 72-foot female, approximately three to five years old — were taken to CIMWI’s headquarters, located at the old Vista del Mar School site near Gaviota. For the next year and a half, researchers from the Natural History Museum and CIMWI will study the skeleton and prepare it for display.

“The Vista del Mar isn’t abandoned anymore, like people thought it was,” Dover said. “We’re developing a stranding center up there.” He described the site as ideal for their work because of the available space and its distance from developed areas. There the smell of decaying cetacean parts should not raise protests from neighbors.

As for the significance of the blue whale killed last week, Collins said the incident was both good and bad. “It was good because it indicates an increase in the number of whales out there,” he said, “and bad because we don’t like to see any endangered animals killed.” According to recent studies, the population of blue whales in the Northern Hemisphere is currently between 3,000 and 4,000. Pre-whaling estimates indicate that their numbers were once as high as 350,000 worldwide.


Santa Barbara Natural history museum



Work in progress

Un petit camp au bout de la Terre

A quoi ressemblait le Pôle Sud géographique il y a un demi-siècle, en 1956? Et ben regardez, voilà le Pôle -
90°S - lors de l'Année Géophysique Internationale. Incroyable, n'est-ce pas? Quarante-six ans auparavant (en Décembre 1911) Roald Amundsen et ses quatre coéquipiers, puis le Capitaine Scott et ses quatre compagnons (un mois plus tard, en Janvier 1912) rejoignaient ce lieux perdu au bout de la terre.
"Great God, this is an awful place!" avait dit Scott en arrivant au Pôle, après un voyage épuisant et surtout après la décevante découverte du pavillon norvégien, qui flottait sur la tente abandonnée par Amundsen.
Aujourd'hui, le Pôle sud accueille la nouvelle base Américaine ultramoderne
Amundsen-Scott, nommée d'après les deux explorateurs. Depuis McMurdo, le Pôle peut être rejoint en trois heures de vol, à bord d'un Hercules LC-130, de la US Air Force.



FIFTHY YEARS AGO IN ANTARCTICA, the key word was already "collaboration"!

Photograph by: Dave Grisez, National Science Foundation
US Antarctic Photo Library

Date Taken: January 1957

The ship in the foreground is the HMNZS ENDEAVOR, which brought construction materials for the first New Zealand Scott Base as well as supplies for the overland crossing to South Pole in which the Hillary team was to lay depot supplies for Dr. Vivian Fuchs' overland team, crossing the continent from the other direction. The ship in the background is the U.S.N.S. GREENVILLE VICTORY. The ships were moored three miles from Ross Island.



Author: UNEP and The International Ecotourism Society (TIES)

From the Publisher's website:

Tourism is a growing activity in the Polar Regions. In the Arctic, tourism is already an important component of the economies of the north. In the Antarctic, the number of tourists landing on continental Antarctica continues to rise sharply. There are serious concerns that tourism is promoting environmental degradation in the Polar Regions (especially in the Arctic) by putting extra pressures on land, wildlife, water and other basic necessities, and on transportation facilities.
This publication explains issues and impacts of relevance to polar tourism and provides a selection of good practices for various stakeholders. The publication builds on UNEP-UNWTO 12 principles on sustainable tourism development. The trends and patterns of tourism in Polar Regions are summarised and agenda of policy implication is identified. The publication addresses the main challenges related with the following impacts of tourism in the Polar Regions: Land management; Biodiversity conservation; Cultural Heritage and Climate change.

Publisher: UNEP, June 2007

Website: UNEP, Publications (see on the right)

PHOTO CREDIT: Lucia Simion (chiedere prima di utilizzare, grazie).


Polar Books

This is a collective project to produce and promote quality books reflecting IPY themes and with global audience appeal. The books include: Global Outlook for Ice and Snow (United Nations Environment Programme, June 2007), Antarctique, Coeur Blanc de la Terre (Lucia Simion, October 2007), and Vanishing World, the Endangered Arctic (Mireille De La Lez and Fredrik Granath, November 2007). Project members provide resources from their books for use in IPY education and outreach. This is an open project and we invite new authors to join.




The United Nations Environment Programme’s report Global Outlook for Ice and Snow has just been released. The Author is Joan Eamer.

The Global Outlook for Ice and Snow, an official IPY project, captures the state of knowledge on ice and snow in polar and mountain regions of the world. It investigates the linkages between ice, snow and climate change and presents information on the trends in ice and snow and the outlook for this century and beyond. It also looks at the consequences of changing ice and snow to ecosystems and human well-being. The Global Outlook for Ice and Snow was written by more than 70 scientists from around the world.

The report is available on the UNEP website.


This book of photographs (dimensions: 28 cm x 32 cm - 224 pages ) is entirely focused on the ANTARCTIC and it is dedicated to the general public.
It is divided into four main chapters:

1) The continent
2) History of exploration
3) Life in an extreme environment
4) A continent of peace, dedicated to science

These four chapters are illustrated with a selection of pictures taken by photographers (including myself) from many different countries. Being a photo editor as well as a photographer I also made the photo selection, choosing the most spectacular photos I could find (among the photographers:Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Frans Lanting, Norbert Wu, Ingo Arndt, George Steinmetz, Paul Nicklen, Colin Monteath, Tui de Roy and others). Many are double page spreads.

There are four main texts, plus ten interviews with scientists or technicians from different countries involved with the Antarctic and 32 pages of “Encyclopedia” at the end of the book (16 double pages).

The foreword was written by Jean-Louis Etienne, a well-known French medical doctor and polar explorer who crossed Antarctica in 1989-90 with five other people from different nations, to draw attention to the Antarctic Treaty which was to be renewed. Jean-Louis Etienne climbed the Erebus, reached the North Pole on skis and will soon fly over the Arctic Ocean in an airship to study the effects of the global warming on the pack ice.

The most important thing for me was that the photographers and those interviewed should belong to different countries, and not to a single nation, since the key word in Antarctica is "collaboration". All the major science projects are international. Richard E. Byrd, the American explorer, wrote: "I am hopeful that Antarctica in its symbolic robe of white will shine forth as a continent of peace as nations working together there in the cause of science set an example of international cooperation".

The book will be on the bookshelves on October 12th. It will be
published in French by Belin publishers, and in Italian by Giunti editore.

Note on the author:

Lucia S. Simion was raised and educated in Italy and France, so she feel she belongs to both countries. In her childhood she used to live in Neuilly-sur-Seine, at walking distance from the house of Commandant J. B. Charcot, explorer of the Antarctic and the Arctic. After getting a medical degree, Lucia became a science journalist and professional photographer . She has participated in seven expeditions to Antarctica (three to Dome C-Concordia) and will soon be deployed on the ice again, to cover the ANDRILL project. Her dream is to winterover Antarctica.



Lucia Simion

ANTARTIDE, il Cuore bianco della Terra
Editore Giunti

Uscita 12 Ottobre 2007
244 pagine, 300 fotografie
Prezzo di copertina: 39 €

Testi di Lucia Simion, fotografie di AA vari inclusa L. Simion

Lontano, molto lontano all’estremità della Terra c’è un continente misterioso e affascinante quanto un pianeta remoto e splendente. E’ l’Antartide, la Terra australis incognita immaginata da Aristotele duemila anni prima della sua scoperta, cercata dagli esploratori del Settecento, quindi svelata da quelli del XIX e del XX secolo : l’Antartide, un continente dedicato alla Pace e alla Scienza, che appartiene all’umanità intera, gestito collegialmente dalle nazioni che aderiscono al Trattato antartico. Richard Byrd, il grande esploratore americano che contribui’ a svelare vaste contrade del continente grazie all’osservazione aerea, scrisse : « Spero che nella sua veste immacolata l’Antartide continui a brillare a lungo come un simbolo di pace e di collaborazione per le nazioni e i popoli del mondo intero ».

« Antartide, il cuore bianco della Terra » è illustrato dalle immagini di alcuni dei più noti fotografi internazionali : Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Frans Lanting, Norbert Wu, George Steinmetz, Paul Nicklen, Ingo Arndt, Tui de Roy ; senza dimenticare i fotografi delle spedizioni di Scott e di Shackleton : Herbert Ponting e Frank Hurley. La selezione è stata fatta dall'Autore (Lucia Simion è stata Photo editor di parecchie riviste, e ha lavorato un anno all'agenzia fotografica Sygma).
Una particolarità di quest’opera sono le interviste con ricercatori, tecnici, esploratori, e fotografi di diverse nazionalità, che hanno lavorato in Antartide : il continente ci è svelato tramite le loro esperienze, le loro ricerche, le loro impressioni. Il volume esce in coincidenza con il quarto Anno polare internazionale, che si concluderà il primo marzo 2009. La prefazione è di Jean-Louis Etienne, medico e esploratore polare francese, che nel 1989-90 ha attraversato 6.300 km di Antartide con un team internazionale di 5 colleghi, per attirare l’attenzione sul rinnovo del Trattato Antartico. (C) Lucia Simion 2007

Biografia dell'Autore:
Lucia Simion è divulgatore scientifico da 20 anni, giornalista scientifico iscritto all'albo dal 1994 e fotografo professionista. Da 10 anni frequenta il mondo delle Scienze polari e ha frequentato tutti i più importanti Congressi scientifici internazionali sull'Antartide; è stata accreditata anche a un ATCM, Antarctic Treaty Consultattive Meeting (Riunione consultativa annuale dei Paesi membri del Trattato Antartico). E' laureata in Medicina con Lode all'Università Statale di Milano.
Lucia ha trascorso l'infanzia in Francia a Neuilly-sur-Seine, accanto a Parigi: abitava a due passi dalla casa del Comandante JB Charcot, medico e esploratore dell'Antartide e dell'Artico; Lucia era allieva del "Groupe scolaire Charcot". Lucia ha al suo attivo 7 spedizioni in Antartide (di cui 3 a Dome C, dove ha seguito e documentato per tre campagne la costruzione della base Italo-Francese Concordia (finanziata al 50% dall'Italia e al 50% dalla Francia) e lo svolgimento del progetto europeo di perforazione in ghiaccio EPICA. Lucia Simion è l'unico divulgatore scientifico e fotografo ad avere questa esperienza. Nell'arco di 8 campagne, il team del progetto EPICA ha estratto 3.300 m di carote di ghiaccio dalla calotta di Dome C: questo ghiaccio, datato circa 800.000 anni è attualmente il più "vecchio" ghiaccio estratto in Antartide. Nel futuro, un team internazionale di glaciologi (IPICS) tenterà di perforare la calotta di Dome A, dove il ghiaccio sarebbe datato 1 milione di anni. Lucia Simion è l'unico Italiano ad aver partecipato al corso post-doc "Graduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies" (GCAS) all'Università di Canterbury, Christchurch, Nuova Zelanda (2005); nell'ambito di questo corso ha trascorso 15 giorni in un campo remoto sulla piattaforma di Ross, preso l'Isola di Ross. Lucia Simion partirà a McMurdo nel Novembre 2007 per seguire e documentare il Progetto ANDRILL, SMS, a cui partecipa anche l'Italia (con gli USA, la Nuova Zelanda e la Germania). Nel Novembre 2008 il Servizio Filatelico delle Terre australi e antartiche francesi (TAAF) metterà in vendita un "Carnet de Voyage" Filatelico, contenente 14 fotografie e 14 francobolli realizzati con fotografie che Lucia Simion ha scattato a Crozet, Kerguelen, Saint-Paul e Amsterdam (isole subantartiche francesi). Lucia Simion ha visitato anche numerose altre isole subantartiche fra cui South Georgia, Macquarie, Campbell, Auckland islands e le Shetland del Sud.

In occasione del Festival della Scienza 2007 (e del Quarto Anno polare internazionale), Lucia Simion ha collaborato con il Museo Nazionale dell'Antartide di Genova alla realizzazione della mostra fotografica all'aperto: "Antartide, Cuore bianco della Terra". Le foto di Lucia Simion sono state esposte a Parigi (Centro Italiano di Cultura), a Océanopolis (Brest), alla sede dell'IPEV (Istituto polare francese), al MNA di Genova, a Brest in occasione della riunione 2003 del COMNAP, alla sede centrale del CNRS a Parigi, alla Cité des Sciences de la Villette (Parigi) e altrove.

NOTA: Questo testo puo' essere utilizzato esclusivamente per citare il volume in questione, di cui l'Autore è Lucia Simion. Per ogni altro scopo, contattare l'Autore o
l'Editore Giunti. Ogni abuso è illecito.


Vanishing World
The Endangered Arctic

Photographs by Mireille de la Lez
Text by Fredrik Granath

“Vanishing World” is an unprecedented visual record of life in the Arctic. Five years in the making, this book is both a celebration of the wildlife that inhabits this harsh and unforgiving climate and a cautionary tale of global warming. Rising temperatures have put areas such as the Artic at risk and the livelihoods of the animals that live there are increasingly threatened.

Set against a dramatic landscape of ice floes and ragged mountains, readers will see the polar bears, foxes, seals, walruses, and reindeers who now struggle to live in this vulnerable climate. Images of a polar bear mother as she takes her newborns out for their first hunt, a seal pup only hours old, the spectacle of the polar night, and the majesty of the glaciers and pack ice are a reminder of what is at risk.

Mireille de la Lez’s stunning photographs are accompanied by text that explains the precarious nature of life in this dramatic climate. No one who sees the images of this vanishing world will be unmoved.

“Vanishing World” is published in English, French, German and Italian in October 2007:

English: “Vanishing World – The Endangered Arctic”
(Publisher Abrams, New York)

French: “Un Monde Fragile”
(Publisher: Éditions de La Martinière, Paris)

German: “Leben im Eis – Arktis in Gefahr”
(Publisher: Knesebeck Verlag, Munich)

Italian: “Polo Nord – Un Mondo Che Scompare”
(Publisher: Mondadori, Milan)

About the Authors

Nature photographer Mireille de la Lez and cowriter Fredrik Granath have spent years working in the high Arctic and specialize in photography and films of the polar regions. They live in Stockholm, Sweden.

For more information, visit:


"Emmènez-moi au bout de la Terre, emmènez-moi au pays des merveilles", chantait Charles Aznavour.....(Les bateaux) Ils viennent du bout du monde, apportant avec eux des idées vagabondes, aux reflets de ciels bleus.....
Le Marion Dufresne, ce magnifique navire océanographique de 120 mètres de long, dont le port d'attache est La Réunion, vous emmènera sans doute "au bout de la Terre"
. Plus précisement dans les Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, les TAAF, une communauté territoriale crée en 1955, administrées par un Préfet-Administrateur Superieur basé à La Réunion. Depuis le mois de Mars 2007 le Préfet des TAAF est Monsieur Eric Pilloton.
Cinq sont les Districts qui forment les TAAF, mais trois seulement sont visitables à bord du Marion Dufresne (appelé également "Marduf" en jargon local): l'archypel de Crozet, les îles Kerguelen, Saint-Paul et Amsterdam. Iles perdues au fond de l'Océan Indien, entre l'Afrique, le Madagascar et l'Australie. Elles sont connues comme "les îles aux 25 millions d'oiseaux": albatros, manchots royaux, gorfous sauteurs, manchots papous, pétrels géants....En Octobre 2006, Dominique de Villepin (alors premier ministre) avait annoncé la création de la "Réserve naturelle des TAAF". Avec ses 700.000 hectares, il s'agit de la plus grande réserve naturelle de France, à 13.000 Km de la métropole.....
Le quatrième district des TAAF se trouve en Antarctique, il s'agit de la terre Adélie, mais il n'est pas ouvert au tourisme - du moins pas à bord du Marion Dufresne ou de l'Astrolabe, le navire ravitailleur de la base permanente Française Dumont d'Urville. Des TO Americains ou Australiens y font escale de temps à autre. Un cinquième distric a été ajouté en Février 2007, celui des Iles Eparses: Tromelin, Europa, Bassas da India, Glorieuses et Juan de Nova (Océan Indien).
Le tourisme dans les TAAF a commencé en 1994. Le "Marduf" effectue quatre rotations par an, des allées-retour depuis La Réunion et les trois districts insulaires (9.000 Km de voyage), en 28 jours. A chaque rotation, un petit groupe de touristes est accueillis à bord (entre 8 et 15), parfaitement intégrés parmi les scientifiques, les techniciens et tous les membres de l'equipage. Une expérience rare et - selon les témoignages recueillis - très marquante. "Sur les autres navires les conférenciers sont là pour faire un métier, sur le Marion tout est plus vrai, plus autenthique, plus convivial" (témoignage d'un passager). Les places sur le Marion étant limitées et très recherchées, il faut s'inscrire un an à l'avance.

Depuis leur création en 1955, les TAAF ont un propre Service philatélique indépendant, qui a émis juqu'à présent quelques 490 timbres TAAF et 4 Carnets de Voyage Philatéliques. Avant la fin de l'année, un cinquième Carnet de Voyage philatélique sera émis.

Pour informations (et pour obtenir la brochure en PDF), écrire au TAAF, à M.lle Stéphanie Payet, qui s'occupe du Tourisme:


BLOG du Chef de District à Kerguelen,
YANN LIBESSART - voir aussi dans la colonne des LIENS:

Crédit photo: photo satellitaire de Kerguelen, NASA. Remarquer la calotte glaciaire du Mont Cook (500 Km2) et le Mont Ross, le plus haut sommet des TAAF (1800 m).


The ANDRILL-PROJECT ICEBERG Guide is now online and you can download it from the Andrill website (see the link below). The booklet -47 pages, beautifully illustrated with photos and cartoons, and a great layout- contains background information on the ANDRILL Project, discussion starters and hands-on activities for the students as well as the general public interested in learning Antarctic geoscience. Request the DVD with the Guide, plus 14 video journals produced by Megan Berg on the Ice during the 2006-2007 summer campaign. See the link below.

Instancabili nella loro attività didattica, i membri del Quartier Generale del Progetto ANDRILL (di stanza all'Università del Nebraska a Lincoln, Nebraska, USA), hanno messo online una splendida Guida "ANDRILL-PROGETTO ICEBERG", destinato agli insegnanti, ai divulgatori scientifici e a tutti coloro interessati ad approfondire le loro conoscenze sul tema delle Scienze Geologiche dell'ANTARTIDE, e sul Progetto ANDRILL in particolare. La guida è scaricabile online (vedere qui sotto il link), oppure si puo' richiedere una copia del DVD (che contiene anche 14 mini-video-giornali realizzati da Megan Berg in Antartide durante la campagna 2006-2007) cliccando sul secondo link indicato qui sotto, oppure facendo copia-incolla sul vostro motore di ricerca. Come tutto il materiale didattico prodotto da ANDRILL (USA), la grafica è accuratissima e molto, molto gradevole; le fotografie e le illustrazioni sono scelte in modo perfetto, i testi sono chiari e comprensibili da tutti. Lavoro eccellente.
La consulenza scientifica è di Judy Diamond, David Harwood, Richard Levy e Frank Rack (quest'ultimo è il direttore del Progetto ANDRILL). La guida è stata realizzata con il contributo di Megan Berg, insieme a LuAnn Dahlman e Julian Thomson, due insegnati che nella stagione 2006-2007 hanno partecipato al Programma ARISE per DIVULGATORI SCIENTIFICI. Bisogna veramente dire che i soldi investiti dalla NSF per sostenere la componente didattica (Education & Outreach) del Progetto ANDRILL sono stati magnificamente bene impiegati. Come usano dire i Francesi: "Châpeau!". Bravi.



PHOTO-CREDIT: the "Andrill-PI-Guide" cover


FROM: The Sydney Morning Herald

PHOTO: by Oceanwide Expeditions (see the website below)

Text by: Richard Macey (SMH)

September 12, 2007

TARONGA ZOO marine specialists are fighting to save the life of the second Antarctic leopard seal to be washed up on a Sydney beach in a week.

Found stranded yesterday morning at Clontarf, the gravely ill female had been badly mauled by a cookie-cutter shark. The zoo is already nursing a male leopard seal that was found on Tuesday last week on a beach at Wattamolla in the Royal National Park. It had also been attacked by a cookie-cutter shark.

Leopard seals were very rare in Sydney's waters, said Geoff Ross, a wildlife management officer with the National Parks and Wildlife Service. "We might see one every two or three years," he said, adding that finding two in a week was extraordinary. "They are Antarctic ice dwellers which seldom wander further north than Macquarie Island."

Mr Ross speculated the seals might have been washed towards Sydney by the Southern Ocean storms that helped drive Sydney's unusually heavy winter rain.

"But there is a not a lot of food for them to eat in the deep ocean," he said, noting they normally dined on sea birds, including penguins, squid and fish that they would haul out of the water and onto the Antarctic ice.

As a result of being so far from home, both seals were malnourished, exhausted and near death when found. The one rescued last week weighed just 90 kilograms, about 50 kilograms lighter than normal for its age.

Besides the leopard seals, five sub-Antarctic fur seals have also been found washed up on the NSW coast this year, adding to the puzzle.

Australian scientists reported last month that they had used satellites to track southern elephant seals swimming up to 2000 kilometres through Antarctic waters to find a meal, raising suggestions something has disrupted their normal Southern Ocean food supply, and forced them to hunt further afield.

Mr Ross said one possibility was that climate change had reduced the Antarctic food chain. "It's still a bit of a mystery," he said. "We can hypothesise about why the seals are here, but we really don't have good solid answers."

He estimated that 95 per cent of Antarctic seals swept onto NSW beaches died. Under an international agreement, those that are rescued and survive cannot be returned to the wild because there is a risk they might have picked up lethal viruses while exposed to humans and other land animals.

Mr Ross warned anyone finding stranded leopard and fur seals to keep clear. "They have a massive set of jaws, with teeth like serrated knives."

Taronga's spokesman, Mark Williams, said that while the female leopard seal was very ill the male found last week was improving and eating fish by itself.