Seals are among some of the most unique animals to be found on the planet. There are 33 different types of seal in the world, mostly in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. They are a semi-aquatic mammal with winged-feet and are also among some of the most protected animals in the world.
Seals have many natural predators and despite years of evolution, they still have very natural defenses to protect themselves from them. That being said, they are intelligent and fast animals who have discovered the strength of a good escape and power in numbers.
One of the biggest problems for seals is that they face threats wherever they go. The seal has natural predators on both the land and in the sea, which can make survival very difficult. Baby seals, or pups, are especially vulnerable to predators.
Let’s take a look at some of the seal’s most deadly predators.
1. Killer Whales and Sharks
Unsurprisingly, the biggest threats to seals tend to be larger water-based animals. Killer whales and sharks are both known to hunt and eat seals, with baby seals being particularly popular targets for them, as they are much easier to catch.
Both killer whales and sharks like to swallow their food whole instead of chewing it and as such, baby seals make for the ideal food for them. That being said, they are also capable of taking huge bites out of bigger animals so they will occasionally go after an adult seal as well.
Killer whales will also hunt seals in large packs, making it more difficult for the seals to escape once they have been spotted. Some whales will use their big and powerful tails to strike the seals and flip them into the air.
Though, baby seals are also considerably weaker swimmers than the adults and are therefore a lot easier for killer whales and sharks to catch.
Sharks will use a different technique to killer whales. They tend to stalk the seals from below and sneak up on them before they even get a chance to realize that they are there.
2. Polar bears
Polar bears are one of the most deadly species of animals located in the arctic and they have very big appetites. Polar bears are incredibly strong and they are capable of killing a full-grown adult seal with one big swipe of their paws.
Seals have a large layer of blubber under their skin which helps to keep them warm and this is particularly useful to polar bears if they want to be able to survive in the habitat. Some seals are big enough to be able to fight back against these predators but a lot of the time, this doesn’t end well for the seal.
One defense seals do have in the arctic is that they tend to live in huge colonies. The sheer number of seals in a colony can make it difficult for a polar bear or any other arctic based predators to get hold of one.
Polar bears have an exceptional sense of smell though and they will wait until they can find a seal alone. They can also be incredibly patient predators of seals and will want for days for a seal to appear so that they can kill it.
They will also slowly stalk seals when they are on ice. Ringed seals are especially important to polar bears and they will spend the majority of their time on ice.
3. Arctic Wolves
Another huge threat for seals in the Arctic is Arctic wolves. Like Polar Bears, these rely on seals to be able to survive in the climate and seals have become an essential part of their diet.
Arctic Wolves, like polar bears, are also incredibly patient animals and will stalk seals before they take their opportunity and attack them. Arctic wolves are also known to stalk and hunt their prey in packs, this, combined with their noteworthy speed, makes it incredibly difficult for a seal to escape from this predator of seals.
As with a lot of animals on the planet, the biggest threat to the future of seals does not come from another species of animal but rather from humans. There are several parts of the world where the seal is regularly hunted and killed by humans. This has a much bigger effect on their population than when they are killed by their natural predators.
At the time of writing, there are nine countries in the world where seal hunting, or sealing it is also known, is practiced. Harp seals are the ones that suffer the most as a result of seal hunting and while there are said to be quotas in place to monitor these activities, they have still had a significant impact on the seal population. During the 20th century, seals were nearly declared as extinct on several occasions.
It is not just humans directly killing seals that are causing the problem either. A lot of humans will fish in the same waters that seals live in and this, in turn, interrupts the food chain and prevents seals from being able to get the food that they need to survive.
5. Other Seals
From the outside looking in, seals are some of the most loving and playful animals on the planet. They are often portrayed as a vision of innocence but in reality, there are several types of seal that regularly kill and eat other kinds of seals.
The gray seal and the leopard seal, two of the bigger species of seal, are both known to fight, kill, and then eat other species of seal.
The leopard seal, in particular, can be particularly vicious. The leopard seal is the third-largest type of seal and it is an incredibly solitary animal. They have also been known to play with their food, often spending hours playing a cat and mouse style game with younger seals before catching them and killing them. They most commonly eat the crabeater seal, Weddell seal, and the Antarctic fur seal.
Seals, especially those in the arctic, are facing a battle to survive and the increasing threat from predators on both the land and the sea means the future of the species will sadly, remain in doubt until something changes.
I hope that this article on seal predators was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Animal Facts Page!