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The other day I included an image of a Bearded Seal and it occurred to me that I really needed to show a few more pictures of this wonderful species. After walruses Bearded Seals were the largest pinnipeds that we saw in Svalbard. A Bearded Seal is a fraction of a walrus’ size and, unlike walruses, the species is regularly targeted by polar bears. These animals love to hang out on ice. We saw them on several occasions on ice floes that had calved from glaciers and, of course, we saw them on bits of pack ice that had broken off from the polar ice cap. These animals live on all sorts of marine life, including bottom dwelling mollusks. They are capable of sustaining deep dives, as deep as 900 feet. Apparently, they are night feeders. During the daytime, they do what this one is doing, hanging out on the ice and taking it easy.
These seals get their name from their fantastic whiskers, which form all kinds of fanciful mustaches. Those mustaches, coupled with their overall appearance, give them a benign and jolly look. They sort of remind me of the character whose image appears in the Monopoly board game.
I don’t believe that this seal was thumbing its nose at us but it sure looked that way at the time.
We were able to photograph a very young Bearded Seal as well as the adult depicted here. If any animal wins the prize for cutest arctic fauna it would surely be this one.
When I photographed this youngster I thought that, perhaps, its mother was out hunting and had left it behind while she foraged. That’s probably not the case. Apparently, these young seals are weaned at only 12-18 days after birth and then abandoned by their mothers. This one may be just a kid but, evidently, it is on its own.
All images made with Canon 5Diii, 400 DO. The first two images were shot at ISO 320, aperture preferred setting, f6.3 @ 1/1250. The second two images were shot at ISO 500, aperture preferred setting, f6.3 @ 1/2500.