• Leopard seal belongs to the family of true seals. This is the most terrible seal. It inhabits Antarctic waters and hunts for other seals as well. There were cases when the seal attacked a man: it tightened polar explorers into the icehole and held them under water until death.

  • Elephant seal is the largest representative of true seals family. Weight of southern subspecies male adult can reach five tons, lenth can reach six meters. Elephant seal, as leopard seal, inhabits the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters.

  • Ladoga ringed seals compared to the elephant seals seem to be so tiny. The body length of an adult animal is not more than 1,5 meters, and weight is about 50 pounds. It is endemic of the Ladoga Lake, the population size is about 6-8 thousand animals.

  • Baikal seal is a surviving animal, which inhabits cold waters of the largest freshwater lake of our planet. It is not entirely clear how this animal could get into the lake — through the Yenisei-Angara river system or through the Lena river, which had been previously connected with the lake.

  • Sea lions are not only circus but fighting animals. They are used by U.S. Navy to patrol waters and underwater photography. They are perfectly trainable, very smart and agile.

  • Caspian seal is another rare representative of seals family. It is endemic to the Caspian Sea. These animals are first of all threatened by human impact, oil production in the Caspian Sea.

  • In Italy, the monk seal inhabiting the Mediterranean sea can now be found only in a museum of natural history. Overall, a few tens of individuals of these animals are left in the Atlantic basin, on the Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea. And soon we will lose them.

  • Hawaiian monk seal is also a threatened species. A large rehabilitation center is being built in the state of Hawaii for them. We hope that at least the Pacific subspecies could be saved from extinction!

  • Bearded seal is seen in the Sea of ​​Okhotsk. It is a large seal with a thick skin and sharp teeth. Now Sakhalin activists are trying to save one of them under the supervision of experts of the Rehabilitation Center of Leningrad Region marine mammals.

  • Weddell seal is the fattest and most southern of all seals. He lives in Antarctica and is the only seal who lives at the 77th degree of south latitude, in McMurdo channel. Ross seal, as well as сrabeater seals and leopard seals, has jaw structure, suitable for catching small fowl - krill and copepods.

Eared and True Seals:

Everything about Seals of Our Planet

We've already spoke about distinguishing grey seal from ringed seal, as many people still confuse them. Small part of animals with flippers which inhabit seas, lakes and oceans of our planet is presented in the Baltic region. We'll tell you why there is no name "pinniped", how to distinguish eared sseals from true ones and how many seals inhabit Russia.

Pinnipeds are out of date! Of course, we call all the animals, who have flippers instead of paws "pinnipeds" by habit. These are fur seals, grey seals and even walrus. However, the scientists have long ago eliminated this class from modern classification. According to modern science, these animals have different ancestors. Eared seals and walrus are closer to bears – that's where they've got small head, hard brown fur and small ears. It is believed that they descended into the water in the Pacific Ocean, although the earliest remains of the eared seal were found in France, in the Atlantic basin.

The closest relatives of true seals are weasels. That's why they have long fusiform body and short limbs. True seals first came into the water in the north part of the Atlantic Ocean. The flippers of both true and eared seals evolved simultaneously and evolutionally, because paws are not convinient for animals who hunt under water. That is flippers structure which differs eared seal from true ones.True seals can't stand on back flippers and while they walk on land, they simply drag them. Eared seals can easily walk on the shore using back flippers, which are bent forward in the heel junction and look like flattened foot!

Where do the seals live? In the Northern Hemisphere eared seals inhabit the Pacific Ocean only. In the Southern Hemisphere they can be seen in the South of South America in the Atlantic Ocean and on the Australia South-West shore in the Indian Ocean. Walrus live only around the North Pole: the Arctic Ocean and its joining basins of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

True seals also like cold waters of polar or temperate latitudes. The only exception is tropical monk seal whi inhabits the Black sea and the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaii. There are also three kinds of freshwater seals, and two of them live in Russia. These are the Baltic seal and the Ladoga subspecies of the ringed seal. The third freshwater seal is the only endemic mammals of Finland. Specialists suppose that this kind of seal settled there occidentally and it was connected with the retreat of glaciers. Earlier the seals inhabited the seas and after the retreat of glaciers they were isolated in inner water bodies and adapted to fresh water. By the way, experts say that only Baikal seal is a truly freshwater seal and Saimaa and Ladoga ringed seals are just freshwater subspecies of marine seals.

What seals are there? Eared seal family includes 7 genera and 14 or 15 speciaes (according to different classifications). Two of them live in Russia: Steller sea lion or northern sea lion and northern fur seal. Both are listed in Russian and international Red List of Threatened Species. Steller sea lion is endangered species and northern fur seal is vulnerable species, according to IUCN.

True seals family includes 12 genera and from 18 to 24 species, according to various classifications. 9 species inhabit Russia. These are larga (or spotted seal), grey seal or horsehead seal, ringed seal, Caspian seal, Baikal seal, bearded seal (also known as square flipper seal), hooded seal, ribbon seal, harp seal (or saddleback seal). Monk seals, which inhabited the Black Sea coasts of the Caucasus and Crimea in abundance half a century ago, are now hard to be met in the waters of Russia and the CIS countries. Almost all seals listed in the Russian Red List. It is permitted to hunt for bearded seals, harp seals, Baikal seals and spotted seals.

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