You have probably seen seals in a zoo or on a nature documentary. They are fascinating animals with a real instinct for survival.
Which habitats suit seals?
Seals are found in many different climates and habitats, from the icy Antarctic to sunny and tropical regions. Most are found in the Antarctic.
They survive in the colder climates thanks to layers of blubber on their bodies which help hold the heat in. Those seals found in the Antarctic will generally have a lot more blubber than those which live in warmer places, due to it being unnecessary in hot climates. This means that the seals in older places need to eat a lot more in order to survive.
They prefer an area with an abundance of salt water where there is plenty of fish and they like to dive deep to catch them. Seals live a relatively isolated life and prefer an environment without predators or humans. Rocks by the water are not essential, but preferred. Seals don’t move especially fast over land and favour rocks for quicker and easier access to the water.
Seals need food and if their climate is threatened in any way and food becomes less available their survival can be put at risk. Pollution can change the water quality and the levels of fish may drop which can cause seal numbers to drop and ultimately force them into looking for a new habitat.
Global warming is also a factor which affects the survival of seals. While those in colder climates might be relatively safe, rising temperatures can lead to other species coming into the same waters – often predators – and their safety can be under threat, as well as having to share the fish in that area with more animals.
Some species of seal migrate whereas others do not. Conditions can force migration though and seals are intelligent and robust enough to know when their environment is wrong or under threat and will search out new areas in which to live. There is a misconception that all seals migrate because they have had a good relationship with whales, which are migratory.
Seals in numbers
There are anything between 300,000 and 500,000 currently on the planet, according to estimates and they are found all over the Pacific and Atlantic in large colonies. To keep this number alive steps are being taken to maintain seal habitats.