Seals and walruses belong to the same general family. They are pinnipeds, the term used to indicate an animal with webbed feet.Walruses are distinguished from seals by their tusks, which in mature males grow up to two feet long. Walruses use their tusks to aid locomotion when they are on land, as a means of defense when they are physically threatened, and as shovels to plow the ocean floor to turn up the mollusks that constitute the major part of their diets. Walruses have strong, bristly hairs around their muzzles that are used to separate the meat of the mollusks from the shells. Seal are gregarious creatures. In captivity, it is easy to train them. They bond quickly with humans. In their natural state, they tend to cluster together in groups, often with as many as a thousand of them lying in close proximity to each other on the seashore or on an ice floe.
Seal and Walrus Habitats
Seals are found on every continent, including Antarctica. Although most of them prefer the cold waters of the circumpolar regions, seals swim toward warmer waters to mate, then return to more frigid areas to give birth, often delivering their young on ice floes. Monk seals are found as close to the equator as the GalГЎpagos Islands. Most seals live in salt water, although Saimaa seals live in Finland's freshwater lakes. Many of them were killed off by fishermen who claimed that they were eating all the fish in the lakes. The Finnish government intervened and made killing the seals illegal in 1955, but it was not until serious conservation efforts began in the 1980's that the population began to rebound. It is also illegal to use fishing nets in those parts of the lake where the Saimaa seals live and breed, because more than half of their offspring were getting tangled in nets and drowning. Although they are warm-blooded animals that must have air to breathe, seals and walruses spend most of their lives in the sea. They are essentially aquatic. Their webbed feet and flippers provide them with easier locomotion in the sea than on land, where most of them move quite clumsily. Seals and walruses are strictly carnivorous animals whose diet consists almost exclusively of fish and mollusks. They may ingest some seaweed, but if they do so, it is by accident. These animals can close off their nasal passages so that water does not enter them when they submerged. They can remain under water for up to thirty minutes without having to return to the surface. Seals are more streamlined than walruses. Walruses usually are found in waters that are no deeper than sixty feet, although they can dive to three hundred feet. They explore the ocean bottom, using their tusks to dig into the sand for the mollusks they live on.
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