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Yummy! Rich, Rich Milk!
Mature seals mate in the spring and give birth in the spring of the following year. The pups are born on the pack ice and ice floes, and stay with their mothers until they are able to fend for themselves.
White-coated seal pups are only about 60 cm / 24 inches long when they are born and weigh about 7 kg / 15 lbs, but they grow quickly. In less than two weeks they can weigh up to 34 kg / 75 lbs.
A mother seal's milk is 45% fat (compared to cow's milk at 4%) and on such a fat-rich diet the seal pups gain about two kilograms / 4.5 lbs a day. They need the layer of blubber to protect them from the cold.
Their soft white baby fur looks cute (and is highly prized by hunters) but it does not keep them warm enough to survive on their own. Like their weight, it quickly changes, and after a few weeks it becomes a darker, thicker pelt better suited for icy Arctic waters. By this time they have also developed swimming skills and are able to start catching food for themselves.
Then there's a whole new set of dangers to contend with.
Click pictures for more information and credits.
Library: Animals, Ice, Arctic
Links: Animals, Arctic
News Story: Ice Puppies
Arctic Maps & Weather Reports
DICTIONARY: Just "double-click" any unlinked word on this page for the definition from Merriam-Webster's Student Electronic Dictionary at Word Central.
ARCTIC LIBRARY & GLOSSARY: Check this section for an index of the rest of the things you really need to know about the Arctic.
ARCTIC MAPS & WEATHER REPORTS: Maps of the Northwest Passage, explorers' routes, iceberg sources, Nunavut, the Arctic by treeline, temperature...
ARCTIC LINKS: Even more information! Links to sites related to the Arctic and "Iceberg: the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots".
GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?