Information about the seal
The harbor seal (Phoca Vitulina) has a body that is extremely suitable for moving around in water. Unlike the sea lion, the seal cannot walk on its fins, which makes it very unwieldy on land. The seal hunts for fish. As a result, he was the enemy of man for a long time. Now that this species is endangered, shelters have been provided in both the Netherlands and Belgium to care for weakened animals.
- What does a seal look like?
- The difference between the seal and a sea lion
- What does the seal eat?
- The sound of a seal
- The reproduction of the seal
- Endangered species
- The seal sanctuary
You will rarely see the harbor seal (Phoca Vitulina) on the Belgian coast. In the Netherlands they are most common in the Wadden Sea. They are sunbathing on sandbars off our coast. When disturbed, they quickly dive into the water.
What does a seal look like?
The seal has a thick and streamlined body. It can reach a length of 1.90 meters and weighs between 50 and 150 kilograms.
The harbor seal has a fairly large but narrow head. It has large eyes and narrow, V-shaped nostrils. The whiskers also stand out.
The adult seal has a smooth skin with dark spots. The color varies from light gray to dark gray or from light brown to dark brown. The underside is lighter colored. The body features four fins: two small front fins for steering and two rear fins for propulsion. This allows them to reach speeds of 35km / h in the water.
The difference between the seal and a sea lion
Sea lions are bigger than seals. Unlike seals, sea lions are able to walk on their fins. Another obvious difference is the ears. Sea lions have external flaps that make the ears visible from a distance. Seals have a hole on both sides for an ear.
What does the seal eat?
The seal’s menu mainly includes fish. He eats about 5 to 8 kg per day. That makes him not so popular with the fishermen. The seal mainly searches for flatfish and benthic fish, but squid, crustaceans and shrimp are also enjoyed.
The sound of a seal
The sound of a seal has been described as barking or howling. In comics and children’s books you read the typical ?? oink oink ?? Young seals that lose their mother make a plaintive, howling noise. They therefore become “howlers”. mentioned.
The reproduction of the seal
Mating takes place in August. After a gestation period of 10 months, the young are born in the spring. As a rule, only 1 young is born. This is done on a sandbank on land. The young has a white, woolly coat. It is suckled for 3 to 6 weeks and, due to the nutritious meld, it gains weight during that period. The little ones learn to swim and dive quite quickly.
Seals are an endangered species. For years the seal was hardly ever found in the North Sea. Man had almost completely exterminated him by hunting. In the meantime, it is illegal to hunt seals in most countries. Not only humans, but also sharks, killer whales and polar bears hunt seals, it is difficult to spot seals in the great outdoors. They are too disturbed in their rest for that. Seals protect themselves by running away quickly. In addition, there are too few fish in the estuaries of our coast.
The seal sanctuary
There are seal rescue centers in both the Netherlands and Belgium. The seal sanctuaries take care of seal pups that have been severely weakened because they lost their mother or did not find enough fish. After intensive care, the animals are released again.