Sunday, November 27, 2011

Life of Gray Seal

Life of Sea |  Gray Seal (Halichoerus grypus) | The Gray seal, meaning "hooked-nosed sea pig" can be found on both banks of the North Atlantic. It's a great seal of the family Phocidae or "true seals". It is the only species classified in the genus Halichoerus. His name is spelled gray seals in the U.S., it is also known as Atlantic Grey Seal and the Horsehead seal. Gray seals are found in the North Atlantic is divided into three different populations: the western Atlantic population is found off the coast of Canada from northern Labrador down occasionally to New England as far south as Virginia. The eastern Atlantic population is near the coasts of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and on the coasts of the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway and northwestern Russia to the White Sea. Smaller populations are also found on the French, Dutch and German coast, and people are wandering as far south as Portugal found. The third known population of gray seals in the Baltic Sea is located.

Scientific classification
Kingdom:     Animalia
Phylum:     Chordata
Class:     Mammalia
Order:     Carnivora
Suborder:     Caniformia
Superfamily:     Pinnipedia
Family:     Phocidae
Genus:     Halichoerus, Nilsson, 1820
Species:     H. grypus

It's a great seal, with the bulls reaching 2.5-3.3 m long and weighing 170-310 kg, the cows are much smaller, usually 1.6 to 2.0 m long and 100 to 190 kg in weight. The species from the western Atlantic Ocean are often much larger. Gray seals have a wide range of colors. Males tend to have a dark brownish-gray to black fur with a few light spots are. Females are generally light gray-brown, lighter on the chest, with dark spots and patches. Adult males, females and some older adults to a lesser extent, have a characteristic long nose with wide nostrils. It differs from the common seal with its head straight profile with nostrils set well apart, and fewer spots on his body. Bull Grays have larger noses and rounder profile than a harbor seal bulls.

Gray seals feed on a wide variety of fish, crustaceans and cephalopods. Sandeel or sand lances preferred prey in many areas. Like other species of seals, gray seals also occasionally consume seabirds. But it is clear that gray seals eat anything available, such as squid and lobsters. Sharks hunt gray seals in the western Atlantic, and orcas (killer whales) have also observed the killing of gray seals on both sides of the Atlantic.

Gray seals come together for drawing, breeding and moulting. The breeding season varies between populations, generally between mid-December and early February in Canada in late July to December in the United Kingdom, February to April in the Baltic Sea, and a peak in October in Iceland and Norway. Females become sexually mature at 3-5 years, males at 4-6 years, although males can not achieve territorial status until the 8-10 years old. Females usually give birth to the colony about one day after he landed in the colony.

Mating takes place on land, on ice or in water. The males are the colonies of the females to pup trying to access only to a group of about 2-10 females get. Successful males mate with 2-10 women, but in areas such as sand or ice, where the females are more dispersed, males often mate with only one wife. Recent evidence shows that women often have a greater choice of partners than males. Lactating females during the breeding season does not provide for about three weeks, and dominant males do not feed for up to 6 weeks. After mating, the males and females return to pelagic waters to feed.

Large-scale commercial hunting of Gray seals has not been made in recent years. Hunting and serious pollution in the Baltic gray seal populations drastically reduced, although the population appears to be recovering. This species remains threatened by the degree of pollution in the Baltic Sea by organochlorine compounds often found in seal blubber products that can cause reproductive problems. Pollution in the Baltic Sea has improved over the past two decades, but pollution-related diseases such as severe intestinal ulcers, still affect the seals.

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