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309
Rubric: Children's Page
Section: Biology
I Would Like to Be a Seal

I Would Like to Be a Seal

What shall we have if we take Winny-the-Pooh, shave him, add the sad eyes of Cheburashka, replace his paws by mermaid’s tails and wrap the resulting round water-skin in a shiny Eskimo fur coat?

We shall have Tito! A plump playful inhabitant of the aquarium for seals, sealarium, how else can the place where seals live be called. The masters, research fellows from the Limnological Institute, together with Evgenii Baranov, main expert on seals, live in a small house situated on the shore of Lake Baikal, near the settlement of Listvyanka.

The Baikal seal is the only seal species that lives in fresh water

The Baikal seal feeds exclusively on non-food fish, therefore it does not cause any damage to fishery. One seal consumes up to one ton of fish a year. Male seals can fatten up to more than one hundred kilograms on that feed

Natural lifetime of the Baikal seal does not exceed 50—55 years. According to different estimates, the population of the Baikal seal amounts to 65—100 thousand individuals

When spring comes, female seals make near air-holes snow burrows where they whelp. They give birth to one or two cubs, whitecoats, called so because of their white-creamy skin color

The Baikal seal is a diving champion; it can submerge to a depth of 400 meters and stay underwater up to 45 minutes. In the winter time the seal does not come out to the surface at all; it breathes through special openings, air-holes, which it made when the ice was still thin

One cannot say that the seals are not worth their salt, or, rather, their fish. They work as the objects of investigation for molecular biologists, ethologists, and physiologists, in other words all those who are interested in biology and the origin of unique endemic seals. Distant ancestors of the seal penetrated into the lake from the Arctic Ocean. They found in Lake Baikal the abundance of food in the form of fish and Crustacea (as a result, the seals are the most well-fed among the species) and no natural predators. If it were not for man tempted by their splendid fur skins, the lake would be paradise on earth for the Baikal seal.

By the way our character earns its living, giving almost circus shows! It is beyond belief how willingly and intelligently Evgenii Baranov’s nurslings obey his commands to the numerous visitors’ pleasure! One has to see it with one’s own eyes! And to look into almost human eyes of our ‘younger brothers’…

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