Due to indiscriminate hunting and pollution of the sea, the population of seals are now in steep decline. In order to protect this rare animal, Chinese environmental groups designated March 1 as Seal Day in 1983.
Seals are marine animals with small flippers, that wriggle onto land with its belly. Seals have a thick layer of subcutaneous fat to keep them warm and produce buoyancy. Sometimes they swim in the sea, or they rest on shore.
As one of the keystone species in marine ecosystems, seals help maintain a balance in the food chain. Seals consume fish, squid, and crustaceans. Seals are important food sources for larger predators like Orcas, Polar bears, and Sharks.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, seals are found along most coasts and cold waters, but a majority of them live in the Arctic and Antarctic waters. Among them, spotted seals are distributed in the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea in China.
Spotted seals are capable of diving and they are extremely sensitive to sound. However, scientists have found that ships' noise greatly exceeds the ability of spotted seals tolerance. Therefore, underwater noise can have adverse effects on the hearing and communication of spotted seals, and can even cause permanent hearing loss.
In recent years, China has reduced human activities on shores and strengthened environmental management to protect the spotted seal. In addition, Chinese research institutions and oceanariums are conducting research on the distribution, population change patterns and migration paths of spotted seals, and releasing captive spotted seals after field training.
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