Monday, October 31, 2011

Hooded Seal Facts

The Hooded Seal (Cystophora cristata) is an arctic seal also recognized as Crested Seal. Belong to the family Phocidae, it can only be found within North Atlantic central and western regions from Svalbard to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, all through the northern areas of Atlantic Ocean, in part near Labrador, and in northeastern Newfoundland down to New England. It lives on ice packs and in the Atlantic Ocean's deep waters.

The Hooded seal is known for and named as such due to the 'hood' of the male, a sole and strange addition that can be inflated to what resembles a red balloon. This appendage hangs from the forehead to the mouth's front and bulges out when the male is either threatened or excited. It is most characteristic, though, when it is mating. Its head is black, and its fur is silvery or grayish with a prototype of dark clouded spots. The front flippers have large claws and darker color than the body. The male is usually 2.6 meters in length and about 400 kilograms in weight while the female is smaller at 2.03 meters and about 300 kilograms on the average.

The hooded seal's most visible and most peculiar behavior still pertains to the male's 'bulge'. It balloons to about twice the size of a football when the male blows it up by closing one of its nostrils. The trunk becomes bigger especially when the male is mating. The hood forms at first in young males that are about 4 years. It become fully developed by the time he reaches 12 years. The bulge size varies according to individual body size although the standard size is around 6.3 liters.

The hooded seal lives alone usually but converges in big groups during mating and reproductive season. This seal species has the shortest period for lactation in the middle of all mammals at four existence only. Feeding mainly on deepwater fish like redfish, herring, Greenland turbot, cod, capelin, flounder, halibut, squid, octopus, shrimp, and mussels, a hooded seal can live as long as 30 to 35 years.

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