As you may have noticed, a number of bird species have proven capable of mimicking snippets of sound they overhear, be it a melody, the wail of an ambulance or a dirty phrase taught to them by some drunk fella at a party. But here's the thing: most mammals suck at it. Not so seals. They're able to reproduce the sounds they hear, even if they're outside of their regular vocal range.
In this video, these seals, who were schooled by scientists from the University of St. Andrews, are captured barking out the Star Wars theme song and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It's adorable! It's also a part of some pretty important research that could eventually lead to a greater under standing of speech disorders in humans.
This sort of stuff's beyond me, but Gizmodo's George Dvorsky does a damn fine job of breaking down why the work has the potential to be so important.
“First, knowing how seals use sounds is important to assess how they are affected by noise created by human activities such as shipping or marine construction,” he explained. “This, in turn, will help us to manage wild populations more carefully. Second, studying how vocal learning works in seals and how it might be naturally impaired in some individuals can help to understand vocal development and its limitations in other mammalian learners that use similar structures, such as humans.”
It's a lengthy story, but it's fascinating stuff--if you've got a few minutes to kill, taking a read of it is definitely worth your time. Read the rest
Zookeeper Brianne Zanella is tasked with exercising Oregon Zoo's baby goats, who visit the seals for the first time in this charming video.
The smaller of the two, Ruth is a two-month-old Nigerian dwarf goat kid named after Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her friend Sonia is a mini-Nubian goat kid. No word on when or if they are getting an exotic tiny goat named Elena.
There's a whole Tiny Goat Visits series for those interested in a deep dive into goat-related entertainment.
• Tiny Goat Visits Seals (YouTube / Oregon Zoo) Read the rest
"The men who attempt to survive, not by means of reason, but by means of force, are attempting to survive by the method of animals." -- Ayn Rand Read the rest
How adorable is this rescued earless seal hugging and playing with a seal plushy at the Okhotsk Tokkari Center in Monbetsu, Hokkaido, Japan!
"Tokkari" is the Ainu word for "azarashi" (earless seal), and as the center's name would imply, this facility specializes in sheltering and conservation of earless seals. Visitors can observe the natural ecology of these graceful seals, and even take part in close-up interactive activities. All the while, the center serves as a conservation facility, treating earless seals that have been injured or caught in fishing nets, and returning them home to the ocean. The Okhotsk Tokkari Center holds and extremely important role as Japan's one and only marine animal conservation facility.
(@mombetsu_land via Laughing Squid)
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SER DAVOS: Well, hello there, little fellow? Who's that behind you? Read the rest
Robyn Malcolm captured this wonderful photo of a fur seal surfing on a humpback whale off Eden, Australia.
"We'd seen some amazing whales coming out of the water, everything was happening so quickly," Malcolm told the Sydney Morning Herald. "And it was when I went back through the photos that I realised I had actually captured the seal on top of the whale."
Geoff Ross, a whale expert at New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service said the only other time he'd heard of this happening is when a seal was attempting to escape an orca. Read the rest
...for the moment anyway.
Failed predation attempt off Monomoy, Cape Cod (8/17/15)- filmed by Dr. Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries working with Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.
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Curious cows gathered around a lost seal pup led rescuers to find the orphaned, 5-day-old mammal, reports BBC Radio Lincolnshire.
We had an unusual visitor to the RSPB Lincolnshire offices today. One of our regular visitors spotted some of the cows on the saltmarsh behaving strangely. Upon investigation it seems they'd found a lone seal pup and were hassling it. With the mother nowhere in sight, and for its own safety, we had to take the pup away. We then called Natureland Seal Sanctuary in Skegness, who came to take it away and look after it.
She's been named Celebration, and is being rehabilitated at Skegness Natureland And Seal Sanctuary before being released back to the wild.
[via Arbroath.] Read the rest
A seal has taken to wandering a New Zealand suburb, then crashing just wherever. Today it was found sleeping at a local car wash by employees turning up for the morning shift—and it wasn't the creature's first unusual stop-off point.
Laura Walters and Paul Eastern report that the seal was, for the second day, herded into a cage and released on a nearby beach.
It woke up around midday, and waved a flipper at the crowd of about 50 people who were watching. The increased activity prompted Doc staff to move people further away from the lost mammal.Uwash owner Kirit Makan said the seal was the most unusual customer he had encountered at his carwash. … DOC ranger Stefan Sebregts said the seal was the same male that was found wandering on a Papakura street on Monday.
It was likely he came ashore because he was sick of the stormy weather and needed a rest, Sebregts said.
Yesterday, the Papakura seal's first adventure ended in a the occupation of a local's driveway, after a day spent alarming and enchanting passers-by. The New Zealand Herald's Anna Leask reports on efforts to herd the seal back to safety.
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When Danny Yong woke up this morning and found his house surrounded by police and firefighters - he naturally panicked.
"I thought I'd got myself into trouble somehow. Then my flatmates went outside and saw a seal in the driveway," he said.
Unbeknown to Mr Yong, the now-named Papakura Seal had settled into his Coles Cres driveway and was in no hurry to move.
Victor Caire's "Pinnipède," a delightful homage to elephant seals, is the director's first 3D animated film. Read the rest
"We've been visiting here for the last six years to say hello to the seal pups and we've never had this much interaction before," writes Jason Neilus, of a visit to the Farne Islands. "They were everywhere and all over us!!!! After a nightmare drive there with the worst traffic coupled with the imminent arrival of the St. Jude storm we didn't think this trip was going to be worth the effort but once again the seals made every second worthwhile." [Video Link via Arboath] Read the rest
Steve Westnedge plays his saxophone for a Leopard Seal known as "Casey" as part of a study on the animal's reactions to different sounds at Sydney's Taronga Zoo August 19, 2013. Westnedge, who is also the zoo's elephant keeper, plays his saxophone next to the underwater viewing window to assist the study by researchers from the Australian Marine Mammal Research Centre. The seal occasionally responds with his own sounds, depending on the time of year, which are normally used when wanting to attract mates or establish territories. Read the rest
Beautiful footage of Weddell seals in Antarctica — on the ice and under the water.