The white-furred pups of Greenland, Caspian, Baikal and other seals are called a squirrel. Greenland babies are found in the North Atlantic, the White, Barents, Kara and Greenland Seas. Caspian seals live in the sea of the same name, and Baikal seals live in Lake Baikal. To draw attention to the protection of seal offspring, Squirrel Day is celebrated worldwide on March 15.

Seal pups (or pups) are born from February to April, more often in mid–March. Their length is from 50 to 70 centimeters, and their weight is 2.5-4 kilograms. The skin of a newly born puppy has a yellowish-green tint. After a couple of days, it cleanses and acquires a delicate milky color. It lasts for a little more than two weeks and in the first weeks of life helps the defenseless squirrel to remain unnoticed in the snow.

At first, the kids do not leave the lair, prepared by their mother to protect them from the weather and enemies. They are crows and white-tailed eagles. At home, pregnant females are equipped under a thick layer of snow on hummocky areas with holes for communication with water in order to get food.

"It has been confirmed that Baikal seals can swim very far from the otters, but it is still not known how they navigate under the ice and especially how they get their food at great depths in the absence of sunlight. It is known for sure that seals do not have echolocation. But seals can move their nostrils. Before diving into the water, the nasal openings are tightly closed, as well as the auditory passages," said Alexander Ananin, head of the science department of the Federal State Budgetary Institution "Zapovednoe Podlemorye".

You can see the seal while visiting a specially equipped route in the Trans-Baikal National Park. In the summer, state inspectors of specially protected natural areas are on duty around the clock in this area.

"When meeting squirrels, we recommend not to get close to the animal and, moreover, not to touch it: otherwise it will get scared, and the "alien" smell will scare away its mother, and she will not be able to take care of it. This is equivalent to the death of a baby," said Alexander Ananin.

The Federal State Budgetary Institution "Zapovednoe Podlemorye" is engaged in monitoring the number of Baikal seals jointly with "BaikalNIRO", the Limnological Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Lake Baikal Foundation. These are complex, expensive complex works on the versatile study of the seal.

In autumn, the protected area is monitored using quadrocopters – at this time, the Chivyrkuy Bay of Lake Baikal begins to freeze, and the seal on the first ice is clearly visible from the air. In summer, counting is carried out on the archipelago of the Ushkany Islands. In addition to visual accounting, the employees of the protected areas use camera traps and online surveillance.

Remote monitoring helps not to disturb a newborn puppy, who is afraid of water and dives only if he senses danger. He doesn't really want to freeze until he builds up the fat layer. But he does it quickly: seal milk is considered the fattest. For example, the Baikal seal has it 6-10 times fatter than cow's, so puppies gain weight very quickly.

With the transition to eating fish, the squirrels begin to shed: the wool gradually changes color to gray-silver, and then to brown-silver. For the first time, a molted individual is called a kumutkan (hubun, hubunok).

The meeting of males and females for the next mating takes place almost immediately after the birth of the puppy, even during its breastfeeding. To do this, the male swims into the lair. It is noteworthy that seals do not create permanent married couples in nature, only the female participates in the feeding and upbringing of cubs.

Author: The Press service of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia

Опубликовано: 15 March 2024