HOME · Biodiversity
date

International Seal Day: Protecting the Adorable Marine Mammals 

Every March 22, International Seal Day provides an opportunity to learn about these pinnipeds, their habitats, and their environmental challenges. The day highlights the essential role seals play in marine ecosystems and how their health can indicate the overall health of our oceans. Let’s be their protectors by learning more about this occasion.

Featured in: March - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

Why Do Seals Matter

spotted seal
Photo by Dušan veverkolog on Unsplash.

In celebrating International Seal Day, acknowledging the vital role of seals in our ecosystem is of utmost importance. Scientifically named 'pinnipeds,' these unique creatures can mainly be found in cold waters of the North Atlantic, proving their adaptability to harsh environments.

Seals are classified into three main families:

  • Eared seals, which include fur seals and sea lions.
  • Earless seals or true seals, which include the grey seals.
  • Walrus.

Other notable species include the leopard seal, known for their striking markings, and the elephant seal, which can stretch up to 20 feet.

Regardless of the species, these semi-aquatic animals all share a thick layer of insulating blubber, often a few inches, which shields them against cold water. They also sport whiskers called vibrissae to detect prey while hunting underwater.

Pinnipeds have a significant role as both predators and prey, thus positioning them as keystone species. Their existence speaks to the complexities of the marine food web, with seals consuming numerous marine creatures while also falling prey to orcas and great white sharks. 

The fact that seals exist in various species, inhabit diverse geographical locations, and carry such weight in the food chain underlines how closely linked they are to the health of marine ecosystems. 

Their existence is essential for maintaining a balanced aquatic life. It is crucial to preserve these remarkable creatures. By marking International Seal Day, we are reminded of seals' complex and significant role in sustaining our planet.

Related Read: Seal Facts, Types of Seals.

The Cause and Its Challenges

seal on water
Photo by Anchor Lee on Unsplash.

International Seal Day invites our attention to the critical issues experienced by various seal species. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), among the 36 recognized pinniped species, two - the Japanese sea lion and the Caribbean monk seal - are now extinct, evidencing the urgent need for adequate conservation measures.

Moreover, no seal species is currently classified as critically endangered. Six species are considered endangered, while four are vulnerable.

Various threats put seal populations at risk. First, commercial fishing practices unintentionally ensnare seals, resulting in significant mortality. Consequently, marine pollution adversely affects seals' health, as they fall victim to toxic accumulation, often resulting in gastrointestinal cancers and decreased fertility.

Aside from these, continual climate change threatens the existence of polar seal species, as the dwindling sea ice poses risks to habitat destruction. Finally, the age-old practice of hunting seals adds to their vulnerability despite its drastic evolution - from clubbing during haul-outs to modern firearm use.

These issues highlight the importance of proactive measures to ensure the survival of these marine creatures. International Seal Day serves as a reminder that by addressing these issues meticulously, we can prevent the extinction of the remaining seal species.

Efforts and Initiatives

seals on ice
Photo by Federico Artusi on Unsplash.

International Seal Day raises awareness about the victories achieved in maintaining various seal species globally. This commemoration involves beneficial legislation and conservation initiatives undertaken worldwide.

The United States, through the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA), has seen the California sea lion population increase significantly to 250,000. Due to this rise, these creatures have started to inhabit man-made environments like docks, bringing about protective control measures from wildlife managers and prompting city officials to change dock designs to accommodate sea lions.

Next, in Canada, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has been leading remarkable conservation efforts since 1998. Their dedication to seal preservation has significantly impacted global awareness and the success of conservation strategies.

One brilliant example of a community-centered initiative is the work of Friends of the Elephant Seal, which has been protecting these magnificent creatures since the late 1990s. The nonprofit continues to advocate for peaceful coexistence between humans and marine mammals, applying education as a critical tool in their mission.

Finally, legislation at a global level has undoubtedly proven to be a potent tool for change. The Trade in Seal Products Basic Regulation, enacted in 2009, has prohibited the placement of seal products on the EU market. This regulation underwent revisions in 2015 to reflect the outcomes of World Trade Organization rulings, further solidifying its impact.

How to Get Involved and Support International Seal Day

beach cleanup
Photo by OCG Saving The Ocean on Unsplash.
  1. Begin by self-education and learn about the challenges seals face and how our actions can either help or hinder them.
  2. Show your active support by signing petitions advocating for their protection and stricter regulatory measures. Here’s one from IFAW, fighting the Canadian commercial seal hunt.
  3. Use the power of social media to spread awareness and encourage others to join the cause. Here's our collection of seal quotes you can share with your posts.
  4. Participate in or initiate beach clean-ups to enhance their habitats and promote healthier living conditions.
  5. Finally, take it one step further; urge policymakers and companies to address and mitigate threats from activities such as commercial fishing and overhunting.

Conclusion

International Seal Day plays a crucial role in raising awareness about the plight of these marine creatures. Educating ourselves and others can ensure a brighter, more secure future for pinnipeds worldwide, sparking change through global consciousness.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is International Seal Day?

Every March 22, International Seal Day or International Day of the Seal is an annual event that raises awareness about the conservation and protection of seals worldwide.

2. What are the significant challenges faced by seals?

Seals face habitat loss, climate change, hunting, pollution, and entanglement in fishing gear.

3. How can individuals support seal conservation?

You can support organizations working to protect seals, sign petitions, spread awareness, reduce their environmental footprint, and advocate for stronger conservation measures.

4. Are all seal populations endangered?

Of 36 species, two seal species have sadly become extinct, six are endangered, and four are vulnerable. We must monitor and manage seal populations to prevent their decline.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo from PxHere (Public Domain).
Pin Me:
Pin Image Portrait International Seal Day: Protecting the Adorable Marine Mammals 
Sign Up for Updates
SIGN UP