Friday, May 13, 2011

Don't Pet Me: Seals

Seals belong to a group of fin footed mammals called Pinnipeds which also include sea lions and walrus. They also have the distinction of being hands down my absolute favorite animal. The difference between true seals and sea lions is pretty simple, seals don't have ears, there now you can tell the difference! Don't you feel smarter?

Holy Crap! Baby Fur Seal so cute! But not a "true seal", check out the ears.

Pinnipeds are a widespread around the world, and though many species are on the endangered species list often they are considered pests to beach goers and fisherman. Phocids sometimes called "true seals" are usually found in polar, sub-polar, and temperate climates with the exception of the different species of Monk Seal which can be found in tropical areas. They are more specialized for aquatic life then fur seals or sea lions because they are more streamlined and can swim longer distances using less energy. This does however make them more awkward while on land. You'll notice pictures of sea lions and fur seals using their flippers and sort of "sit up", (like the above photo) and phocids just can't do that.

Harp Seal pup, they are born sort of yellow and then their fur turns a bright white for about 12 days until finally settling into a silvery gray color. Harp Seals are my favorite seal species.

Although adorable mothers do not stay with their babys for very long, the amount of time a mother spends with her baby ranges anywhere from 3 to 28 days depending on the species of seal. In fact the mother abandons her pup before it's ready to forage on it's own and the pup lives off the fat it's hopefully stored up in the time it's mother was there for around 2 to 12 weeks again depending on the species.

He's like come on mom, play with me!

Seals communicate through grunts and water slaps, unlike sea lions which bark or howl.

Why you should not pet!

They may look all cuddly and doe eyed but they are dangerous. Their teeth are numerous and very sharp, they're made to chomp lobsters and crabs, and unlike us pansy ass humans they eat them shell and all. They also weigh quite a bit and have no problem throwing their weight around. They can easily knock out any human that comes too close so beware the cute damnit!

Random Seal Facts:
  • The Hawaiian Monk Seal is called ʻIlio-holo-i-ka-uaua, or "dog that runs in rough water."
  • Recent evidence suggests that pinnipeds evolved from a bearlike ancestor about 23 million years ago.
  • Seals feature heavily in the Orkney fokelore about the selkie, a race of shape shifting seals that could take human form.
  • A gray seal can dive to 475 ft. No Scuba equipment required.
BONUS PICTURE!

This is Spencer the seal, he's one of my oldest and most beloved plushie. When most of my other stuffed animals were placed on shelves I slept with him clear into adult hood (shhh don't tell anyone!). He's lived a hard life, we moved around a lot, my brother attacked him with a black magic marker once, and gum another time (just cause he's a dick). He's old and lives on a shelf now, he's not soft like he used to be and the suede is coming off his nose because of the washings. His wiskers are bent because as a nervous child I used to chew on them at night. But he's still clearly very special to me and I hope he's always there even if I don't " need" him anymore.

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