Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Ringed Seal of Estonian fauna.


img_207The 2003 stamp from the Estonian Fauna series features the Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida), one of three species of seals found in Estonian waters.It is the world’s smallest seal. Its main habitat is freezing waters of the northern hemisphere. Besides the Arctic Ocean and the Baltic Sea Phoca seals can today be found also in Lakes Ladoga, Saimaa and Baikal.


They have a small head, short cat-like snout, and a plump body. Their coat is dark with silver rings on their back and sides with a silver belly, from which this seal gets its vernacular name. Their small front flippers have claws more than 1 inch thick that are used to maintain breathing holes through 6.5 ft thick ice. Their snouts are short and narrow.
The ringed seal, a very shy animal that lives in small groups, grows up to 1.5 meters in length. They are very sensitive to maritime pollution, which finds its way into their bodies with food (fish and maritime invertebrates) dangerously undermining their health and reproductive capacity. There is a community of about a thousand ringed seals in Estonian coastal waters, living in groups separated from others by long distances.
Ringed seals live about 25 to 30 years. They are solitary animals and when hauled out on ice separate themselves from each other by hundreds of yards.
The seal's natural predators are orcas, polar bears, wolves and wolverines, and Arctic Fox which prey on the young; in fact, the Ringed Seal is a preferred and important subsistence food for the threatened polar bear

2 comments:

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