Some people consider seals to be akin to dogs that live in the water. Because of this, and their cuteness, people have taken to harassing these poor animals when they show up on shore. One such incident reached the news because a seal pup died after tourists taking selfies scared the mother away. So please leave the wildlife alone.
Seals come in many forms, with the three main groups of seals being found under the clade Pinnipedia. These are the earless (true) seals, the eared seal (such as sea lions), and the Odobenidae (whose only living species is the walrus.) Today, we are going to look at the 'true seal' and see what we can learn about them.
Physical Description and Behavior
Their sizes can vary greatly, ranging from 4-16 feet and weighing between 100 and 5000 pounds depending on the species. Despite this, their general body type is the same amongst all species. They are usually a gray or brownish color, sometimes with spots, have a long and sleek body covered in blubber, and lack any notable ears.
Fun fact: True seals do not bark as other seals do. They instead communicate through grunts, as well as slapping the water.
Seals are carnivorous mammals and feed on a variety of sea life including fish, squid, shellfish, plankton, and sometimes even smaller seals and penguins. While they spend most of their time underwater, they go on land in order to give birth to their pups. When their young are born, they feed them a diet of very rich and fatty milk to get them to grow fast. Seal pups have a thin layer of fur when they are born which slowly disappears as they gain their blubber in about 3 to 4 weeks.
Habitat and Location
It seems as if true seals, or Phocidae, live in any place where the water is fairly chilly. They tend to avoid the equator entirely, and due to the large amount of blubber they use for insulation, it is understandable why. While they live in marine environments, a couple of species may live in freshwater conditions as well.
While most species of true seals are considered of Least Concern according to the IUCN Red List, a couple of species like the Hawaiian and Mediterranian monk seals are considered Critically Endangered.
To learn more about the evolution of the seal, check out the video below!