Ovaries were collected from 26 Ross seals shot in the King Haakon VII Sea south of the 60 degrees latitude during 3 periods, between 12 January and 2 February 1980-1982. The structure of the ovaries resembled that of other pinnipeds. A corpus luteum was found in 18 of 26 females, which therefore were regarded as reproductive. However, no females were lactating or visibly pregnant (presence of fetus in the uterus). Of the remaining 8 females (non-reproductive), 3 had neither a corpus luteum nor a corpus albicans. Ovulation did not alternate between ovaries in 4 of 10 females. Ovarian weight was greater in reproductive females than in non-reproductive females, and was also correlated with presence of a corpus luteum. Follicular development was more advanced in reproductive females than in non-reproductive females, and it was also more pronounced in the ovary containing a corpus luteum. The finding of a high percentage of females with a corpus luteum, but with no fetus in the uterus, together with histological characteristics of the ovarian structures in the present study, and earlier published data on mating, pupping and moulting, provide circumstantial evidence for delayed implantation in Ross seals.
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