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The Baikal seal

The Baikal seal
Latin name: Pusa sibirica
Family: Real seals

Baikal seal, or Baikal seal - one of the three freshwater seal species in the world, endemic Lake Baikal, A relic of the tertiary fauna. Occurs in Lake Baikal, especially widely in the northern and middle parts of it (pelagic). In June, on the shores of Ushkanii Islands, you can see especially a lot of seals. At sunset the seals begin a mass movement to the islands. These animals are curious and sometimes swim to drifting ships with a muffled engine, for a long time being nearby and constantly emerging from the water.

So far, among scientists there is no single point of view, how this animal got to Baikal. Most researchers adhere to the point of view of ID Chersky that the seal penetrated into Lake Baikal from the Arctic Ocean through the system of rivers YeniseiAngara In the glacial epoch, simultaneously with the Baikal omul. Other scientists do not exclude the possibility of its penetration into Lene, Which, as it is supposed, was a drain from Baikal.

The Baikal seal

The average body length of an adult seal is 165 cm (from the end of the nose to the end of the rear fins). Weight from 50 to 130 kg, females are by weight larger than males. Linear growth ends in seals for 17-19 years, and weight continues for a number of years and is possible until the end of life. Live up to 55 years. In a calm environment, the speed under water does not exceed 7-8 km / h. With greater speed, it swims when it leaves danger. On a solid substrate, the seal moves slowly enough, fingering its tail and tail. In the event of danger, it goes to jumps. According to the fishermen, the seal caught up to a depth of 200 m, but, as a rule, it dives to much smaller depths. Nerpa feed finds in a well-lit zone (25-30 m) and it does not seem necessary to dive deep. The nerpa is capable of submerging up to 400 m, and withstands the pressure of 21 atm. In nature, it is under water up to 20-25 mines - this is enough for it to get food or escape from danger.

The Baikal seal
Seal population

According to the staff of the Limnological Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences of Russia, currently there are about 100 thousand heads. Counting is conducted in different ways. The fastest, but less reliable - visually from an airplane that makes flights on a certain route grid. The counters are looking in the porthole and mark each lair they see or make aerial photographs of the routes and take into account the lairs. And then they are recounted from a unit area to the entire water area of ​​the lake. The second way is to bookmark Baikal near 100 accounting sites 1,5 * 1,5 km each. They go around on a motorcycle or go around on foot on ice and count all the lairs that meet on the sites. Then the recount is carried out to the entire water area of ​​the lake. And finally, the way route. On two or three motorcycles the group of trainees makes routes across the Baikal at a certain distance from each other, sufficient to see from the motorcycle all the lairs that meet. In recent years, the most accurate - area - accounting of seals has been applied. The largest age of the seal in Lake Baikal, determined by the employee of the Limnological Institute V. D, Pastukhov, 56 years for females and 52 for males. At the age of 3-6 years is capable of mating, the offspring brings at the age of 4-7 years. Males reach puberty a year or two later. Pregnancy in seals lasts 11 months. It begins with an embryonic diapause - a delay in the development of the embryo in the womb of the female on 3 - 3,5 months. For a life the female can bring, probably, to two tens and more cubs if to consider that it is capable to bring posterity up to 40-years age. Females usually puppy annually. However, every year up to 10-20% of females for various reasons remain soil. This period is extended for more than a month - from the end of February to the beginning of April. Most of them are hanging around in mid-March. They are born on the ice, in a snowy den. In the first period, while they feed on mother's milk, they do not dive into the water, but prefer to lie back in the den.

The Baikal seal

When the lake is ice-bound, the seal can breathe only through air vent-blast holes-spare holes in the ice. The seals are made by scraping the bottom of the ice with the claws of the forelimbs. Around its lair up to a dozen or more auxiliary products, which can be up to ten or even hundreds of meters from the main one. The airs are usually round in shape. The size of auxiliary 10-15 smokes (sufficient to stick a nose above the surface of the water), and the main blow to 40-50, see below. The blasts are in the form of an overturned funnel - they expand considerably downwards. It is interesting that the ability to make produhi is an innate instinct. In the experimental aquarium, a small floating platform of 5-centimeter foam was installed on the water surface to rest the seals, and the rest of the aquarium with open water. Young nerves of the month and two months of age made holes in the foam, raking it with claws from below, exposing the nose and breathing into the air, although there was open water nearby. Having "satiated" with air, they again went under the water. It should be noted that the nerves were caught in a week or two weeks of age, when they were still eating mother's milk. It was necessary to feed them with condensed milk through the nipple from the bottle, like children. In the water, they did not swim and were afraid of water. And when they grew up, they showed what they could do.

The Baikal seal

The young are born in a specially prepared snow lair. Most of the seals are born in the middle of March. Usually a seal creates one, rarely two cubs. The weight of the newborn is up to 4 kg. The skin of the cubs is silvery or silvery-gray in color. About 4-6 weeks, the cub spends exclusively inside the lair, feeding on mother's milk. By the time the lair collapses, he is almost completely shed. Mother takes care of the baby, leaving only for the period of hunting. In the presence of the mother, the temperature within the lair reaches + 5 ° C, while the frost outside is -NNUMX ... -15 ° C. The lactation period ends in 20-2 months. Sometimes lactation lasts 2,5-3 months, depending on the state of the ice cover. With the transition to self-sustenance, the fish weed, the fur gradually changes color to silver-gray in 3,5-2-monthly, and then to brown-brown - in older and adult individuals.

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