Mai San2

About Seals

Seals belong to the class of sea mammals, but unlike whales are dependent on land or ice to give birth and suckle their young. Seals are predators that feed from quarry that they catch in the sea. Seals get all the fluids they need from their food, since they also swallow a lot of seawater. The seal's metabolism is adapted to pass excess salt through their urine.
There are in total 32 seal species, of which seven occur in Norwegian waters.
The seals are divided into three families:
•True seals (Phocidae)
•Eared seals (Otaridea)
•Walrus (Odobenidae)


True seals
True seals swim with their back flippers and steer with their front flippers. On land they drag themselves with their back flippers pointing backwards. Based on differences in their teeth and in skeleton anatomy, the true seals are divided into three sub-families:
•Phocinae, with eight species, of which bearded seals, harbour seals, grey seals, ringed seals and harp seals occur in Norwegian waters.
•Monachinae, with seven species, none of which occur in our waters.
•Cystophorinea, with three species, one of which, the hooded seal occur in Norwegian and adjacent waters.
Eared seals
Eared seals have a visible outer ear. Both eared seals and walruses have forward-facing back flippers when they are out of the water. In the water they use their front flippers to swim, whilst their back flippers are held together and used as a rudder. There are two sub-families (sea lions and fur seals), with 13 species in total that all inhabit the Pacific and South Atlantic Oceans.

Walrus
The family has only one species, which is Arctic and circumpolar, which means they are found around the whole of the North Calotte. The walrus is the largest animal found in Norway, apart from the whale. The males can weigh up to 1550 kg, the females up to a tonne. Both sexes have the characteristic tusks that can be up to a metre in length. Their main food source is bottom-living animals, especially shells; however they have been known to capture other seal species. Walruses are very social animals and live in large groups. After once being extremely common, they were almost wiped out on Svalbard. The walrus was given protected status in 1952, when there were as few as 100 left. Now there are approximately 1000 walruses on Svalbard.