Are you fur seal? Seal week takes place from August 29 to September 2, 2022, to commemorate Pinniped science and conservation. There are around 30 species of pinnipeds in the world and most of them are seals. Seals are the only mammals that feed in the water and breed on land. They are found around coastlines and in frigid seas, with the majority in Antarctic and Arctic areas.
Seals are an important part of marine ecology. They contribute significantly to the food web by devouring fish and are prey to many powerful predators, including orcas, sharks, and polar bears.
Many seal populations have declined as a result of hunting, including the extinction of the Caribbean monk seal in 2008. Due to climate change in the Arctic, rapid ice loss severely impacts seal populations, and particular seal species rely on the ice for their lifecycles.
The Northern Fur seal and hooded seal are listed as vulnerable under the IUCN Red List, while others such as the Galapagos fur seal, Caspian seal, Hawaiian monk seal, Mediterranean monk seal, and others are endangered.
Though specific for one seal, these steps can help multiple seal populations and wildlife. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this is what you can do to help seal populations:
- Keep beaches clean.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Keep seals wild—give them space.
- When fishing, pull your fishing line in until the seal leaves the area.
- Keep cats exclusively indoors. Cats that live outdoors spread the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which is lethal to monk seals and other native wildlife.
- Vaccinate your pets and keep dogs leashed at all times. Dogs have injured and even killed monk seals through attacks and bites, and they can disturb seals resting on the beach. They can also transmit diseases to seals.
- Promote healthy oceans.
- Share your enthusiasm and educate others.
For more information on seals throughout the week, visit NOAA Fisheries here.