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Happy International Day of the Seal!
Here at Exploris we love our harbour and grey seals. Sure, they’re smelly, noisy and they scratch and snap and chew on us while we’re trying to nurse them back to health, but it’s all worthwhile as we watch our pups heal, grow and thrive in our sanctuary, then eventually scoot back into the wild to live full lives. Getting to know each seal’s quirks and personality is a big bonus too!
But there are many more kinds of seal in the world than just harbour seals and grey seals, and what better day to appreciate their curious cousins than today, on the International Day of the Seal?
The beefy Bearded Seal has thick whiskers on its muzzle that resemble a well-groomed beard. They also have red faces, as the underwater mud they forage for food in contains iron which rusts after the seals return to land.
Harp Seal pups have a beautiful, pure white, fluffy coat which allows them to perfectly blend in with the Arctic ice and avoid becoming a polar bear’s dinner.
This is the same for the Ribbon Seal, but as they get older their coats turn black and develop striking white rings, like great ribbons coiled around their bodies.
Most seals live in saltwater, but the Baikal Seal lives only in freshwater, in Lake Baikal in central Eurasia, hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean. Even though they’re the smallest species of seal they still weigh about the same as a washing machine!
The Antarctic Ross Seal has a distinctive flat face and makes unusual alien-like noises. Researchers believe that Weddell Seal mother and pups sing to each other with their own unusual noises, both above and below the water.
The Leopard Seal is a ferocious predator that will eat fish, penguins and even other seals! These humungous carnivores are about the same length as an average car and can swim up to 25 miles per hour, helping them become Antarctica’s top predator alongside killer whales. Crabeater Seals (which don’t actually eat crabs at all, but krill) often bear scars from leopard seal attacks!
Northern Elephant Seals have one of the longest migrations in nature; they have been known to travel over 13,000 miles in one year – that’s further than the distance between New York and Shanghai!
The gargantuan Southern Elephant Seal is the largest non-whale marine mammal in the world, weighing up to 4,000kg! That’s nine times heavier than a grand piano, twice as heavy as a rhinoceros and almost as heavy as an Indian elephant! They’re also about as long as a giraffe is tall!
Why not head on down to Exploris to meet some of these marvellous marine mammals yourself? You can learn more about them, the threats they face and what we do for the pups that end up in our care. You’ll be able to see them swimming, socialising, recovering and feeding, and you can even help the important work of the seal sanctuary by adopting one for yourself!< Aquarium News