If Walt Disney had seen young harp seals, it certainly would not be Mickey little mouse, and Belka. Walt Disney World fame brought the key secret of human sympathy: we like creatures with large heads and huge eyes, that these proportions are human babies - and Disney goodies.
In nature, the more likely such a way consistent harp seal pups, which reach to two weeks straight caricature: a snow-white fur tidy bag with grease, and a pair of huge black eyes. Everyone who saw them alive, agree that this is the cutest kids in the world. Except your own.
In fact, almost all the seals are fun and photogenic, but the laurels of the film and it fotozvezd harp seals, harp seal or brought their "nursery", located close to human settlements: on the coastal ice of Greenland and the White Sea.
Seals differ from their close relatives, cetaceans, the fact that they need a substrate - the shore or ice. Eared (such as seals and sea lions) is carried out on it more time arranging the rookery, and harbor seals visit the substrate only in the period of childbirth and molting. Ice - a perfect antiseptic: low temperatures do not allow bacteria to grow, and post-partum infections on the ice is not seen.
Zieleniec - newborn harp seal pups. His fur is slightly greenish-yellow hue. After a few days it will become a pure white fur Pups.
flippers instead of feet
In the past century, pinnipeds group isolated in a separate detachment, uniting walruses and seals. In the modern classification of pinnipeds come in two superfamily order Carnivora. Eared seals (e.g., seals and lions) and walruses belong to the same superfamily consisting distantly related to bear, and these seals - to another associated with a kunimi. Our harp seal - the most that neither is true. Huge eyes seals appear black because of the unique ability of the pupil to expand, allowing them to see well both underwater and on land. In addition, the pups eyes are constantly watering, but not from sadness - they need constant moisture.
Harp seals - one of the most fun and unusual animals. They lack external ears and ear holes are closed under the water. Despite this, the seals, according to scientists, excellent hear - and in the water, on land and in addition to the view orientation often use echolocation.
Belek sucks milk, loudly smacking his lips, just like a human baby. Belka Tyuleniha feeds intermittently for several hours, and the baby is gaining weight up to three kilograms per day.
But the sense of smell works in "Greenlanders" only in the air, and it is for females smell find their pups. (For a long time it was thought that tyulenihi wanted kids voice - it was too Belka plaintive cry, whereas adult animals are silent But studies have shown that the female in a hurry not to weeping, and on the individual smell of your baby..) Tyulenihu, walking along the trail Belka, easy to recognize - his nose into the surface of the ice, it is in short bursts, it is not working limbs. In other cases, the seal crawling faster, twisting and helping himself with his front paws, flippers. Typing acceleration, it glides in a straight line, like a sled.
A brutal fishing
The population of harp seals in our waters is about one million individuals, plus 300 thousand newborns appears every year. Since the period of breeding seals are concentrated on the ice is very compact, they are easy to hunt, in Canada and Russia for centuries they have been the subject of fishing. Such fishing really helped to survive the indigenous population: seals provide coast-dwellers and Eskimos skins, meat and fat. A large number of seals and belugas were caught, in particular for the supply of polar expeditions. Fat serves as an excellent fuel, and the meat - high-calorie food, not only for dogs, but also for people. Actively hunted seals during the Second World War: cheap affordable meat.
However, seal meat can be eaten only in great need - it is tasteless, so after the war, seal hunting has lost its meaning, but it has not disappeared. Simply become meaningless because monstrously cruel.
Impossible to produce in an industrial scale adult seals - they are scattered over vast areas of the Arctic Ocean. Therefore, the object of the massacre, and in another way it will not name, until recently, were defenseless young that neither escape nor can not swim away. Documentary footage of their slaughter, few people can see out: fishers landed on an ice floe and blows Bagrov killing of defenseless children.
The absurdity of this fishery was the fact that neither the meat nor the fur of baby seals on anything not suitable. In the USSR, the meat, at best, it was spent on fur farms and fur - to a single factory in Kazakhstan, where from it sewed hats, not demand. Often, fur and all rotting on the shore. However, fishing remained - the Soviet leadership believed that it provides employment for the local population, but what a time when Belka was beaten only three weeks of the year ?!
With the collapse of the USSR the monstrous fish seemed sunk into oblivion. But then on the horizon it appeared a notorious Norwegian company Rieber Skinn, a world leader in the supply of furs of sea animals.
The Norwegians tried to introduce in the Arkhangelsk region of baby seals production technology with the use of small boats, which was used by Canada - and takes the lives of about 275,000 harp seals annually. The Norwegians were going to build a shipyard Solombalskaya 20 vessels, as well as to organize in Arkhangelsk primary dressing skins, and even began to conduct special seminars for local hunters. When you exit the project at full capacity production Serock was supposed to increase from 30 thousand to 100 thousand individuals per season.
According to the expert of the International Fund for Animal Welfare IFAW's, revived with the help of such hunting Norwegians provided seasonal earnings in the 50-90 thousand. Rubles just 60-100 fishers, most of which were urban dwellers and had no relation to the traditional marine fishery. And the Norwegians were going to sell fur in Russia and China - The European Union imposed a ban on the import of seal fur products.
Always organized by environmentalists and "green" actions against the face, it seemed much success had. But in February 2009 signed a decree to ban the hunting of baby seals in all age groups. Besides, now in the protection of seals Russia ahead of the rest: we have banned not only production, but also the sale of products from seal skins.
If harp seals had to choose their country of residence, they have chosen to Russia, where for the third year they banned hunting, and ice is not yet threatened by global warming.
Most people are much nicer to look at the animals through the crosshairs, and through the viewfinders of cameras. Here and in the White Sea is the third year pups are concerned not with the grim hunters hooks and enthusiastic girl with iPhones and solid guys with SLR cameras. However, they are few - ecotourism worldwide expensive. Highly.
Do not try to get closer to the adult seals: his teeth and jaw bull terrier, claw - like blades Freddie Kruger, weight - like a sumo wrestler. Or something to bite or cut or legs will break. True, most likely, simply dive into the hole. In contrast to the plump Belka, who either can not escape nor bite or scratch. But obgadit from head to toe - easily, so it is not recommended to take them up. Approach is desirable to the calf without a mother. However, the mother of your approach dives into the water, watching you from the well. The exception is young, much lighter than the more experienced seals, mother - these are not going to go anywhere and are ready to fight for his first child to the last. Another eco-tourists should know that in any case it is impossible to stand between Belka and utelgoy - losing visual contact with the baby, tyuleniha can quickly rush into attack.
However, in conflict with his mother and is not required - on the ice is full of lonely pups whose mothers had gone to feed. People kids react differently: some aggressive yapping and trying to get away awkwardly, some staring with his huge eyes, creep, smell and do not hide the disappointment: "It is not my mother!". If pups stroking with a gloved hand, they happily blink and can substitute tummy scratch. But on the bare arm react negatively - probably in the icy Arctic, it seems scalding.
Adoption of some environmentalists, that if Belka pat tyuleniha to it will not work, to put it mildly, not true. We have seen how to "our" Belka water returned mother and baby with smacking set out to high-calorie milk.
Short day comes to an end, rising blizzard. We should go to the bank, helicopters already hyped screws. Adult seals are seeking refuge from the icy blizzards in the sea, and Belka trying to hide in a crack hummocks, warming the muscle tremor - body fat they have is not enough. But those and others will cope with the cold. And the people in the White Sea, thank God, have ceased to be a problem for seals and their lovely kids.