Seals are fascinating creatures. If you live in a coastal area, you may have observed these animals in their natural habitat. But what do you really know about them? We’ve rounded up our favorite facts about seals to help you learn more about these amazing creatures that share the planet with us.
# 1 Seals Are Semi-Aquatic.
Seals are semi-aquatic and often spend a portion of each day on land to rest. They also come out of the water for longer periods of time to give birth or to molt, and it is not uncommon for young seals to stay on land for up to a week.
# 2 Seals Can See Underwater.
Seals can see very well when they’re underwater. In fact, they see better there than they do in bright light, because their eyes are adapted to have round lenses (like fish) and a large iris that fully opens underwater. A seal’s eye is also well-adapted for low-light vision with a lining (similar to a cat’s) that reflects and amplifies the weak underwater light.
# 3 Seals Have Been Around a Lot Longer Than You’d Think.
Seals have been around for much longer than you might think. Fossil records indicate that the ancestors of modern seals first entered the ocean between 28 and 30 million years ago.
# 4 Seals Have Cat-Like Whiskers.
Seals have many well-developed whiskers, similar to a cat’s. Scientists believe that seals use their whiskers to feel vibrations in the water made by swimming prey. This would explain why blind seals living in the wild are able to hunt and feed without the benefit of sight.
# 5 Harbor Seals Can Stay Underwater for 30 Minutes.
Harbor seals are able to store vast amounts of oxygen in their muscles. This allows them to hold their breath for up to 30 minutes. However, most of their dives are much shorter, lasting 3 - 7 minutes on average.
# 6 Harbor Seals Can Dive Very Deep.
Adult harbor seals can dive as deep as 1,500 feet below the surface of the ocean. However, most of their dives take place in shallow waters.
# 7 Baby Harp Seals Are Born on Pack Ice.
Baby Harp seals are born on pack ice floating in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. They don’t have any blubber when born, so their mothers nurse them with high-fat milk that helps them gain weight quickly. Once they reach approximately 80 pounds, their mothers no longer nurse them. During this transition time, they often lose weight but eventually learn to dive into the ocean and hunt for themselves.