THE SPOTTED SEAL
The spotted seal (Phoca largha), is a member of the family Phocidae, and is considered a “true seal”. It inhabits ice floes and waters of the north Pacific Ocean and adjacent seas. It is primarily found along the continental shelf of the Beaufort, Chukchi, Bering and Okhotsk Seas and south to the northern Yellow Sea and it migrates south as far as northern Huanghai and the western Sea of Japan. It is also found in Alaska from the southeastern Bristol Bay to Demarcation Point during the ice-free seasons of summer and autumn when spotted seals mate and have pups. Smaller numbers are found in the Beaufort Sea. It is sometimes mistaken for the Harbour seal to which it is closely related and spotted seals and Harbour seals often mingle together in areas where their habitats overlap.
The reduction in arctic ice floes due to global warming led to concerns that the spotted seal was threatened with extinction. Studies were conducted on its population numbers, with the conclusion, as of October 15, 2009, that the spotted seal population in Alaskan waters is not currently to be listed as endangered by NOAA.
Spotted seals dive to depths up to 1,000 ft (300 m) while feeding on a variety of ocean prey. Juveniles eat primarily krill and small crustaceans while adults eat a variety of fish including herring, arctic cod, Pollock, and Capelin. They do not seem to vocalize a lot, although not much is known about their vocalizations. They appear to vocalize more while in molting groups. When approached in these groups, they make various sounds such as growls, barks, moans, and roars.
Based on satellite tracking conducted on Yellow Sea population, it was revealed that seals migrate more than 3,300 km.