Phocidae – Earless seals
True seals here! They can see well in dark and murky water, but their future… still looks bleak
Phocids or true seals are one of the three pinnipeds (the walrus and the sea lions are the other two seal-like families). They are also called crawling seals as they drag themselves using their flippers and are called earless seals for the lack of an external ear apparatus. This doesn’t mean they don’t have ears, but their ears are present beneath their skin surface. Because of a really thick fat layer, some species can get as heavy as 3,630 kg (4 tonnes).
As if hunting, marine pollution, and other human-related conflicts were not enough, climate change has dawned upon them as the latest threat in habitat loss. Due to changing climates, these seals might follow ice-retreat towards polar regions, exposing them to new predators like polar bears. Some of their species have only 400 members left (Saimaa ringed seal).
Mammal Protection Act aims to conserve seal populations; however, these cute species are in a great peril.
Genera in this family
‘Mirounga’ is the result of the Latinization of ‘miouroung’, which means seals in the Aboriginal language
This genus was used as a wastebasket taxon for numerous species with uncertain affinity
The world’s rarest pinniped species; in 2015, it is estimated that less than 700 individuals survived in 3 to 4 isolated subpopulations
The ends of the mouth are permanently curled upwards that look like a smile or a menacing grin
Named after the dark body color with “ribbons” around their necks, hips, and front flippers
Named after the black, curved marking on their backs that resembles a harp!