We’re on route to our next National Park destination, but Emma just stumped herself with a “Who Am I?” animal sound quiz, that is so tricky that even she doesn’t know how to solve it.
Thankfully she gets some help from Sophie Guarasci, one of the amazing wildlife heroes at the Marine Mammal Centre to solve the case!
Emma is on a long train ride towards her next national park. She’s been playing a series of games to pass the time, one of which features… the seal! But just not any seal: a habor seal.
A seal with many harbors
Harbor seals can be found a large range of geographic locations, from the coasts of North America, Europe and Asia. You can come across them in both freshwaters, like the harbor seals of Ungava Peninsula in Quebec, and saltwater like those found along the coast of California.
So does that mean that there are different kinds of harbor seals that live in different places? Yes! There are 5 subspecies of harbor seals: Eastern Atlantic harbor seals, Western Atlantic harbor seals, Eastern Pacific harbor seal, Ungava seals, and Kuril harbor seals. Each of them is just as cute and spotted as the other!
One thing that’s special about these seals is that they don’t have any ear flaps, known as pinna. They instead have an ear opening, that closes when they dive.
And did you know that their cute whiskers (similar to a cat’s) can help them navigate better by detecting the wave pressures of nearby fish.
Have you ever seen a harbor seal relaxing on rocks before? They do that to rest, enjoy the sun, or even spend time together with other seals. But Harbor seals don’t necessarily have to spend their nights on land! They can sleep on both land and in water, as long as their head remains above-water so they can breathe.
A Slippery Start
A harbor seal can do much more than just float around while sleeping! Seal pups may occasionally ride on their mothers when they are too tired to swim. These cute family interactions don’t last long, as harbor seal pups stay with their mothers for about 4 to 6 weeks before they’re old enough to start trying to forage on their own.
It is during these early stages of a pup’s life that they are most at risk of danger. While separated from their mothers, they can easily get caught up in fishing nets, or end up on urban beaches where they might be at risk of dogs – who can not only injure them, but spread diseases. Seal pups should be left alone, and your dogs should not be allowed near them. If you see an entangled, injured, or stranded seal, report it to your local experts so they can come and tend to it. Specialists such as those at the Marine Mammal Center have the expertise to properly care for an injured harbor seal pup and rehabilitate them back into the wild.
A Marine Lifesaver
In this episode, Emma calls animal researcher Sophie Guarasci to talk about the harbor seal project. Being a pinniped expert, she knows a ton about seals of all kinds! Sophie is responsible for supervising the care of all animal patients. In addition to performing physical exams and providing surgical assistance, she also oversees and trains students and volunteers in the care of marine mammals.
Sophie works at the Marine Mammal Center, which is focused on advancing global ocean conversation through animal care, research, and education. Their centers take care of all types of different marine mammals, including harbor seal pups. The treatment process involves protecting these pups from stress, making sure they are well-fed, and taught how to dive and hunt on their own, before eventually being released back into the wild.
Sophie has been doing an incredible job helping these adorable animals, and Earth Rangers is determined to help her out! You can too by joining the Shoreline Saver mission, and if you want something fun – why not check out these fun Wildwire articles featuring the harbor seal?
What your favorite harbor seal fact of the episode? Let us know in the comments below!
For more information about the Harbor Seal or to learn more about The Marine Mammal Center’s mission, please visit their website at https://www.marinemammalcenter.org/
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