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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Creature Feature: Spotted Seal.

This blog has a lack of pinnipeds for no apparent reason.  Plus, I felt bad about delaying yesterday's entry, soooo....

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...have a spotted seal. :)

The spotted seal (Phoca largha) is the quintessential 'seal.' It eats fish as an adult and smaller crustacean sas a pup. It is native to the north Pacific Ocean, including Japan, Russia, China, and Alaska.Althogh very similar to the harbor seal in appearance, the main distinguishing factor of the spotted seal is its irregular spots.

The spotted seal is one of those "puppy dog cute" animals. Excepting the carnivore teeth, this seal has no sharp parts. Sure, it weighs anywhere from 180-240 pounds and gets over two meters long, but that doesn't stop it from being adorable. It's even got a pointed face like a dog. What's not to like?

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When they aren't swimming, spotted seals spend almost all their time on ice floes. They are usually solitary, but gather in huge crowds during mating season. They are among the few animals to temporarily exhibit a nuclear family (mom, dad, and baby) while rearing a pup. Otherwise, they are off on their own, diving up to 1,000 feet (300 meters) for their fishy prey.

Normally, the spotted seal is not endangered. It's so common that its There is an exception in China, where the seals from South Korea gather to breed. Not only are they China's only pinniped, but spotted seal meat and, umm, genitalia supposedly have medicinal properties. What? Were you expecting the Chinese not to eat seals?

Yes, that is a seal in a race car. OH JAPAN- copyright the folks at Digimon.



Of course,  since these seals are native to Japan, they have been Japanified. Japan takes anything remotely cute (or not) and turns it into colorful toys for all. The spotted seal, or gomafu azarashi,  is no exception; there are plushie spotted seals that one can hang from one's cell phone, a pet mamegoma video game, and other doses of KAWAII that overload most circuits. Most of us probably know Gomamon, the Digimon character, a lot better than anything else spotted seal-related from Japan. If it's weird and wonderful enough to wind up as part of the main cast in Digimon, it's weird enough to be on this blog, right?

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