Sea hare or lahtak is one of the largest seals living in the Arctic Ocean.
These seals live at a depth of not more than 100 meters. Lahtak is found off the coast of the Chukchi, Bering Sea and Beaufort Sea. In addition, the habitat extends far to the west - these are the Barents and White Sea.Sea hare (Erignathus barbatus).
A large population lives in the western part of the Bohemian Bay. The sea hare is also a native of the eastern part of the Pechora Sea, where he lives in the region of the Ugra Strait. The beast is also found on Franz Josef Land, in Novaya Zemlya, Matochkin Shar Strait and the waters of the Barents and Kara Seas. In addition, lahtak lives off the coast of the Admiralty Peninsula and in the coastal waters of Cape Zhelaniy.
The appearance of a sea hare
The sea hare reaches an average of 2.5 meters, and it weighs about 360 kilograms. Males are slightly larger than females.
The head of this seal is round. The front legs are close to the shoulders - this is an exceptional feature of representatives of this species. Sea hares have strong jaws, but small teeth. The teeth are weak, wear out quickly. Old individuals have practically no teeth, since most of them fall out.Lahtaki - residents of the northern regions.
Lahtak has a hairline, but it is rare. The skin of seals is gray-white, while the belly is lighter than the back. On the back and sides there are spots of pale yellow color. The front of the muzzle and the area around the eyes are yellowish. Males do not differ from females in skin color. And in older individuals, the color is noticeably paler. The hare mustache is thin and very long.
Newborn babies are brownish brown. This is also a distinguishing feature of this species from brothers, in whom the kids have white fluffy fur coats.
Lahtak behavior and nutritionSea hares are always nearby with water.
Lahtak lives in summer on low banks. Seals arrange their rookeries in bays closed from the winds right on the pebbles. Hare colonies have hundreds of individuals. In October, ice appears near the shores, and seals move to them. Lakhtak chooses low ice floes, since it is much easier to climb them.
On the ice, sea hares lie near the edge or near the thaw; this is due to the fact that seals are heavy and clumsy animals, they do not know how to move quickly, so they need to be always near. In this case, the seal has to move at least, having rested, it dives into the water, and then again climbs onto the edge of the ice. Lahtak jumps out of the water, making a powerful leap. That is why these seals were called hares, because they jump high.
In winter, some individuals do not leave on ice floes and remain in the coastal strip. Seals make holes in ice, with their help they are immersed in water. In snowdrifts, seals build holes in which they wait for the cold. And in the spring, sea hares go on drifting ice. Mating games take place on the ice near the seals, where animals molt and bring offspring.The food of these seals is shrimp and other marine animals.
Lahtak's diet mainly consists of fish: capelin, polar cod, gobies, flounder. Also, sea hares eat shrimp, sea worms, crabs and shellfish.
Reproduction and longevity
The breeding season of sea hares begins in mid-April, and ends in late May. These seals breed on drifting ice. During the mating season, males do not conflict with each other because they are not aggressive.
Males attract females with an inviting whistle. The gestation period lasts 1 year. The female gives birth to a baby in March-April. The newborn reaches a length of 1.2 meters, and weighs about 30 kilograms. After 2 weeks, the baby can swim and dive. The female feeds the baby with milk for 1 month, and 2 weeks after she quits feeding the baby, she becomes pregnant again.
Puberty in females occurs at 4 years, and in males - at 5-7 years. Sea hares live on average 30-35 years, while females live longer than males for about 5 years.
EnemiesLakhtak is most afraid of the polar bear and killer whale.
The main natural enemy of the lahtak is the polar bear. Bears are happy to hunt these well-fed, fatty animals. These predators guard the seals at thawed patches, waiting for them to emerge from the water behind a breath of air. Also, the bears quietly sneak up to the resting sea hares. It is extremely difficult to escape to the lahtak, because of its slowness, at least on the ground or on ice, it is impossible to do.
The killer whale is another enemy of the sea hare. The killer whale dives under an ice floe and turns it over, as a result of lakhtak falls into water. There he can no longer escape from the sharp teeth of a predator.
One of the most formidable enemies is man. People ruthlessly exterminate sea hares. Among the indigenous peoples of the north, lahtak is highly valued because of its durable skin, a large amount of meat and fat. Today, the population of sea hares consists of approximately 400 thousand individuals.