Diving with spotted seals. Sea of Japan, Russia
The world ocean is a home for a great number of species. Some of them have almost identical features: the pinnipeds, for example. When we look at this animal, it is not an easy thing to say what species we see in front of us: an earless seal, sea lion or Northern fur seal. Probably, the only species that has a distinctive feature is the walrus: we can identify it by the gorgeous tusks. As for the other pinnipeds, the situation is more complicated.
Their names cause particular confusion. Today we are going to tell you about the spotted seal, a graceful predator living in the Sea of Japan. Please note that Baikal seals, Ladoga seals and other seals are different species to the one that we are going to show you in this AirPano video.
The spotted seal is also known as the larga seal. Its English common name comes from the characteristic dark spots. A grown larga seal measures up to 180 cm with a weight of around 100 kg: these are the average dimensions for the representatives of the earless seal group. In the summer months, spotted seals spend most of their time in the water leaving it only for a rest on sand shoals. During the cold period of the year, spotted seals have their breeding season and travel to ice floes or shores. It is an important feature of these animals: different species of seals, like the ringed seal, come out of the water for the reproduction.
A seal pup is born in February-March after a 10-month gestation period and measures around 1 meter. For the first six weeks of their life, the pups are fed with mother's milk and then parents start taking them to the sea. That's when seal pups increase significantly in size and learn to hunt.
Larga seals hunt at the small depth of the continental shelf, up to 200-300 meters. Comparing to other seal species, they can even travel to the mouth of rivers and they have no trouble at finding food. The waters of the northern Pacific, the habitat of this predator, is full of fish: salmons, herrings, capelins, saffron cods... They also adore shellfish and crustaceans. Such a wide ration helps the spotted seal to remain numerous. At the same time, global warming leads to the melting of ice and the spotted seal may be threatened with extinction. In certain places, this seal has already been listed on the IUCN Red List, although in the world this species is referred to as "least concern".
Spotted seals are believed to be extremely shy and they try to avoid people. But the AirPano team was lucky: these lovely privacy-loving animals were not afraid of us! They were carelessly swimming nearby and even approached their sweet little faces to our cameras.
We invite you to swim with the spotted seal and look at the sea by its perspective!
5 August 2020