Seal pups are born at year-end (November/December). After birth, they persevere on land and depend entirely on their mother’s care until their blubber thickens enough to swim and hunt for themselves (around March).
According to the Selkie legends, a male selkie would appear if a woman visits the sea at high tide and cries seven tears into the ocean. Male selkies were rumoured to be highly seductive and handsome, often luring women from unhappy marriages.
The Fur seal family are specially adapted for their dynamic land-sea lifestyle. To illustrate, they move swiftly on land due to their more giant fore flippers and swim with more force owing to their detached hind flippers.
One of the most significant offshore Cape fur seal colonies is on the northwestern coast of South Africa. The colony (based in Kleinzee) is one of the major breeding sites that support around 450,000 seals.
The social structure of a seal colony is complex, with social hierarchies and protected territories. Moreover, individuality is expressed through and recognised by specialised calls.
One of the largest Greek sea-gods, found at eerie and inconceivable ocean depths, is that of Phorcys. Phorcys directly translates to seal god. He was married to Ceto, another fearsome sea god described as monstrous, and they governed the unknown perils of the deep sea.
When mother and seal pups separate (usually due to foraging), the mothers employ their unique abilities to help relocate their pups. To name a few, the mothers have acute spatial cues and can memorise the pups' distinctive smells and vocalisations.
One unique attribute of Cape Fur Seals is their eyes. Out of the water, their eyes deceivingly appear small and squinted. Underwater, their eyes bulge and give them a vigilant expression, enabling them to see at incredible depths (up to 200 metres).
Seal species and pinnipeds dwell in colonies along rocky shores and sandy beaches. In these colonies, it is normal to encounter males initiating charismatic brawls to declare territories and conquer a more impressive Harem (an assembly of seal females).
Although populations are globally increasing, there was a mass Cape fur seal die-off in 2021. The deaths were assumedly due to bio-toxin overload. However, scientists recently attributed the unfortunate events to mass malnutrition and declining food availability.
While their blubber is effective at retaining heat, and their blood vessels are adapted to restrict in cold conditions, the frigid waters and cold winters still require extra temperature management. It is postulated that seals sunbathe at the surface for this reason.
The Fur seal family is endowed with specialised adaptations that help mitigate predation. For example, they can hear sound direction more coherently than other pinnipeds because of their external and goofy-looking ear flaps.
Fur seals have particular adaptations. They can hold their breath for about 7.5 minutes, ranging from about 3-30 minutes, with a known record of two hours. Rather than taking in oxygen (like humans), they expel their breath before completing their dives.
Cape fur seals sleep in two ways: one method for land (similar to land mammals) and one strategy for the sea. When seals sleep in the ocean, they rest various parts of their brain while unconsciously paddling to stay afloat.
In Greek mythology, there are tales of a noble sea god named Proteus. Proteus was a shape-shifting water god and the son of Poseidon. He was beloved and served as a sort of 'seal shepherd' for Poseidon.
Cape fur seals are characterised by teeming curiosity and frolicsome play, making them more inclined to entanglement. As a result, pollution and rope are regularly noticed tangled around seals’ necks and limbs, lethally penetrating the subcutaneous layer of fat in due course.
There are three pinniped seal families: true seals, walruses, and fur seals. Fur seals are the largest of the three, with two subspecies inhabiting South Africa and Australia. Cape fur seals are endemic to the South African coast and are found up the coast of Namibia and even Angola. Cape fur seals have big marine headliner personalities. On land, they make their presence clear with glaring barks, brutal quarrels, and foul odours. In the sea, they take on outgoing and ballerina-resembling personas, spinning, whirling, prying, and playing.
Reproduction and Lifespan
Predator and Prey
Threats and Climate Change
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