- An extremely rare ginger seal pup is at risk of being shunned by its colony due its unusual color.
- The Ugly Duckling, as biologists named the pup, has blue eyes, pink flippers, and ginger fur.
- Albino seal pups are a rare occurrence, with a chance of only one being born out of 100,000.
- Wildlife specialists are currently monitoring and are ready to rescue the pup in case other seals totally reject it.
With its ginger fur, pink flippers, and blue eyes, a rare albino seal pup sticks out like a sore thumb in the rookery. The seal, which they called ‘Ugly Duckling,’ was spotted in the sea of Okhotsk, east of Russia’s Sakhalin Island.
Experts fear the pup will be shunned by others for being different than the rest.
The pinniped was found in Tyuleny Island.
Experts say the chances of a seal being born as an albino are only 1 out of 100,000.
According to marine biologist Vladimir Burkanov, ‘the ugly duckling’ is probably not a total outcast. “This pup looks well fed and was very active, so its mother clearly gave it plenty of milk,” he said.
However, there are a few signs of rejection, according to Burkanov, who is part of a team conducting conservation research on Tyuleny and Kuril Islands.
“Other seals don’t pay too much attention to it in a somewhat worrying manner, so something is quite not right with it. But its not getting chased or bitten,” he said.
On his Instagram account, Burkanov posted this video:
However, wildlife specialists are ready to rescue and look after the pup in a dolphinarium, in case it does get totally shunned by the colony.
Burkanov believes that albino seals have poor eyesight and have a low chance of reaching adulthood. They are also unlikely to successfully breed.
In 2017, photographer Sergey Formin captured a photo of a 2-3 year old albino seal in the Bering Sea. Although it has poor eyesight, it was in good shape
“The albino is now a mature bull of 5-6 years old. 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,” said Burkanov.
Similarly, another albino seal was spotted in 2011.
However, the seal, named Nafanya, had to be rescued and brought to Sochi Dolphinarium on the Black Sea.
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