A couple of months after his first immersion in the waters
of the Baltic, our seal, now nearly a teenager (a juvenile), was resting on a
rock hundreds of kilometers away from his birth place when an adult approached
him. It was a not very large seal that had a strange look about it. It is not
very often that seals come across other individuals, except when they
congregate on beaches or rocks, but our young seal knew that there was
something really different about that adult seal.
The teen, willing to start a conversation, explained that he
was there because he had to take a break.
- It is exhausting to swim all the time, especially after
having to chase the fish for a long time-, he said. - I have been swimming to
hunt fish during the last few days, and I think I need a break now. The fish I
have been eating should be enough for me to obtain, on average, the 5 kg of
food per day that my mum said I should consume.
At first, the adult seal didn’t seem very interested in the
young one, but once it found a nice spot to lay down, it said to our seal:
- Well, given your size I hope you only ate fish.
- What do you mean? What else could I eat?
- Don’t you read the news or what? There have been a couple
of cases, not too far from here, where one of your kind killed and ate one of
- Oh, no, I didn’t know. But now I understand why you look
different. You’re another species.
- Yes, I belong to the harbour or common seals, smaller than
the seals of your species.
- And how many different species are there?
- In this Sea? Only our two groups here in the south, and
then, farther north, you are also likely to encounter the ringed seals, more like
my size… but colder-. And the adult harbour seal released a loud laugh, unaware
that our little friend did not get the joke.
- How did we all get to this Sea? -, asked the juvenile.
- Hmmm, that’s a very long story-, replied the adult, who began
to look interested in the questions dropped by the young one. The young seal’s
new companion then started relating the story of when the first seals arrived
to the Baltic Sea. - Soon after the big Ice retreated, the Ancylus lake, which
was how this region was then known, got filled with so much water that a pass
to the Ocean was opened. Then, our ancestors, yours and mine, entered this
newly formed sea. Our ancestors liked it here, apparently, because soon after
that hundreds more came from around some islands out in the Ocean, and also
many of the ringed seals arrived from the North. That happened about 8000 years
ago, so no one knows exactly what it was like this place back then, but if you
ask your elders they will probably tell you that, for what they know, it wasn’t
as hot as it is now.
- Wow, that’s a very long time ago. I wonder how many of us
there were around here at that time.
- OK, buddy, I think
I am going to take off. My mates must be about to start moulting, and that is
one of the few opportunities we have to hang out together. It’s been nice
talking to you, but I have to find them before the end of June.
- Renovating the jacket, that is. Soon your time for that
will arrive too. Bye!