What’s a Baby Seal Called & 5 More Amazing Facts!
Baby seals are cute, cuddly creatures that are often seen swimming around in the ocean near beaches. They look like little penguins, and they spend most of their lives underwater. But do you know what a baby seal actually looks like? And how long does it take a baby seal to grow into an adult seal? Come along and find out!
#1: Baby Seals are Called Pups!
A baby seal is called a “pup.” They are usually born in the springtime and they are called pups until they are about one year old. Their life is divided into four stages.
The first stage is called the “baby seal” phase. This is where the babies are completely dependent on their mother. She takes care of her babies during this period. When she leaves them, they’ll follow her anywhere she goes.
When the baby seals are about six months old, they start to explore the world outside their mothers’ protection. At this point, they are still very vulnerable because they don’t know what is out there.
This is the second stage, called the “young seal” phase. During this time, the baby seals will become independent from their parents. They will begin learning how to hunt for themselves.
Now it’s time for the third stage: the “weaning” phase. In this stage, the baby seals must learn how to eat fish without having to rely on their mom anymore.
Finally, the fourth stage is called the “adult seal” phase. Adult seals are fully grown and ready to mate. Now they can go off on their own and find a partner. If they do mate, they will raise their offspring together.
#2: Seal Pups Have A Special Call With Their Mom
Baby seals are born blind and helpless. But once they’re old enough to call out for their mother, it doesn’t take long for the pair to form a very strong connection. In fact, researchers found that the moms continue to recognize their pups even after being separated for several years.
The study published in the journal PLOS ONE tested how well the seals could identify each other’s voices over time. They played recordings of seals calling to their mothers and recorded the sounds coming from the water. To test whether the mother recognized her child’s voice, scientists played the recordings again after the pups had been away from their mothers for varying lengths of time.
Researchers found that the seals’ recognition rates remained high regardless of the length of time they’d been apart. For example, one seal pup called out for his mother for three days straight without interruption. After he was reunited with his mom, he still correctly identified her voice 85% of the time. And after he was gone for six months, his mother still recognized him 70% of the time.
#3: Seals Learn To Become Pro Swimmers
When baby seals are born, it takes several weeks for them to start feeding themselves. They are completely reliant on their mothers’ milk for nourishment. After four to six weeks, they begin to eat solid food, such as fish and squid.
By the time they are adults, they are experts swimmers because they spend many months at a time at the ocean’s surface. But their naps are short because they can only hold their breaths underwater for about two hours, according to National Geographic.
The reason why newborn seal pups can’t swim is that their lungs don’t develop properly until they are three to five days old. Their bodies aren’t able to produce enough surfactant, which helps keep their lungs inflated.
However, they learn how to breathe while nursing. Pup seals are able to do this by sucking air into their nostrils through their nose and blowing it out through their mouth. This causes the skin around their nostrils to swell up like balloons.
As soon as they are weaned, they lose this ability. In fact, most adult male seals never learn to swim well. Instead, they rely on their speed and strength to catch prey.
#4: Seal Pups Have Extremely Protective Fat
A recent study published in Marine Mammal Science suggests that baby seals are extremely protective of their fat reserves. Researchers found that even though the pups weigh just one kilogram each, they already possess around 15 kilograms of fat—five times more than adults do.
The researchers believe that this extra fat protects the seals against predators such as orcas and polar bears. The reason why the newborns gain so much weight is due to the fact that they don’t eat anything until they are weaned. Once the mothers return to sea, it is the pups’ job to survive alone. As a result, they must start eating immediately. In order to protect their precious blubber, the seals consume about half of their bodyweight every day.
Although the researchers did not determine how long the seals remain dependent on their fat stores, they estimate that the average lifespan of a ringed seal is three years.
#5: Baby Seals Are Hunted For Their Fur
For many years, seals have often been hunted by humans for the use of their fur and for the numerous products it contains. In fact, most baby seals are born with what looks like a yellow coat of fur, due to the amnionic fluid they were surrounded in while they were still inside their mother’s womb. After a few days outside the water, their fur loses its yellowness and reveals a bright white one. This is where seal pugs get their nickname, whitecoat.
The majority of baby seals are killed within hours of birth, because they cannot survive without human intervention. They are clubbed on the head or shot with rifles, and then dragged ashore and skinned alive. Some people even keep the pups’ heads as trophies.
#6: Baby Seals Can Grow Up To Be The Size Of A Car
Baby seals pack on the pounds quickly since their mother’s milk contains 5 to 6 times more protein than breast milk. As a result, baby seals can reach adult sizes within just three months.
There are over 30 species of seal, with most of them growing quite big. However, there are some very small ones too. One of the smallest species is the Galapagos Fur seal, which only grows to about 3ft long and weighs around 65 lbs. This makes it one of the world’s smallest mammals.
The biggest species of seal is the southern elephant seal, which can grow up to 19 ft long and weigh up to 80 tons. This makes it almost twice as heavy as a car!