When you are a 1 in a 100,000 birth, you are supposed to be special and loved just like everyone else. Sadly, seals don’t understand the concept of uniqueness and would rather stick to the status quo.
Last month, an extremely rare ginger seal was spotted in an all-black rookery on the Russian island of Tyuleny . The animal was the only one with its color in a large rookery and was discovered by a Russian biologist, Vladimir Burkanov, who raised alarms for the creature’s safety.
Nicknamed the “ugly duckling”, the adorable seal is said to be partially albino as its fur is a brownish-red color instead of all-white. This probably means that it has a different kind of fur pigmentation, rather than none at all. Besides its brilliant golden fur, the seal stands out for its unnaturally blue eyes and pink flippers, and a little pink nose.
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Experts fear for its safety
According to Burkanov, while the seal has not been completely ostracized by its mates, it appears to be regularly shunned and left out of things. Thankfully, for now, it’s not being bitten, slapped with flippers, or chased, and it appears to be well-fed and nurtured by its mother.
“This pup looks well-fed and was very active, so its mother clearly gave it plenty of milk,” he said. “Other seals don’t pay too much attention to it in a somewhat worrying manner, so something is not quite right with it. But it is not getting chased or bitten.”
Burkanov believes the seal has poor eyesight, as is common with albinism. He’s also convinced this seal’s chances of living out its full lifespan or breeding successfully are extremely slim.
However, wildlife experts all over the country are monitoring the animal’s delicate situation. If its survival is threatened by rejection from its rookery, it would be taken to a dolphinarium where it would send the rest of its life in captivity. It’s unfair to be rejected and taken away from one’s home, but on the bright side, it could make some pretty good, non-judgmental friends and be out of harm’s way.
Other “1 in 100,000s”
In 2017, another ginger seal pup was captured by a biologist at the Severo-Zapadnoe rookery on Bering Island. The animal was estimated to be about 2 or 3 years old at the time, and it should currently be 5 or 6-year-old fully matured bull.
According to the biologist: “He did not participate in reproduction this season and was seen on the bachelor section of the rookery only. Perhaps, this is the first documented case of the survival of a northern fur seal of an abnormal color to adulthood.”
The fate of this recently discovered ginger-colored seal is not known, but the future out in the wild does not look so promising.
In 2011, another ginger-colored seal had to be rescued from the same Tyuleny Island after it was found hiding under a pile of logs, alone and abandoned by its herd . Her condition broke millions of hearts around the world and biologists knew she would be unable to survive on her own out in the wild.
Later named Nafanya after a Russian cartoon character, the seal was taken to the Akvatoria dolphinarium in Adler, Russia, where she began an excitingly beautiful life filled with love and friendship. She was given her own brightly-colored enclosure with a pool where she gets to see so many people every day and play to her heart’s content.
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- Will Stewart. Rare ‘Ugly Duckling’ ginger seal pup may have to be rescued by biologists because it is shunned by the rest of its colony and could become an outcast. Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8713169/Rare-Ugly-Duckling-ginger-seal-pup-rescued-biologists.html Retrieved 11-09-2020
- Will Stewart. Loneliest seal in the world, shunned by her colony for being ginger, is now the center of attention at Russian zoo… and loving it. Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2066258/Ginger-seal-shunned-colony-star-Russian-zoo.html Retrieved 11-09-2020