Love The Caspian Seal
This 2-year-old mother will do anything for her baby. It is still very young with its beautiful thick white coat to keep it nice and toasty on the sea ice. But she is always worried. It’s hard not to be when they people could come at any moment. They know when her species likes to breed when they are at their most vulnerable. If they come for her baby, she doesn’t know what she could do. She wishes the people could leave them alone.
Found only in the Caspian Sea, this adorable seal is iconic. It is the only marine mammal living in the area and is a key indicator species for the health of the area. The Caspian Sea is not connected to any oceans and so the seals migrate within the area based on the ice formations. During mating seasons the seals live in large groups but prefer a solitary life once this is over. At these times they spend most of their time feeding out at sea. They are not deep divers, usually only going for 50 meters and only for about a minute.
Most Caspian seals are born on the winter ice that covers the northern part of the Caspian. With not enough snow, these pups are not given protective dens like other seals. Instead, they are exposed on the ice under the watchful eye of their mother. They are born with a long white coat called ‘lanugo’ which keeps them nice and warm. If it gets waterlogged they can freeze to death so these pups are kept out of the water until they have moulted their coat at 6 weeks. Not long after they lose their lanugo coat, the pups are weaned and head off to become independent seals.
At the start of the 20th century, there were thought to be around 1 million seals. Since then, their populations have dropped over 90%. This can mostly be attributed to humans. Throughout most of the 20th century, the seals were targeted for commercial hunting for their blubber and fur and tens of thousands of pups and adults were killed every year on their breeding grounds. Even though this has mostly stopped, Russia still operates commercial hunts and opportunistic hunters are still a threat. Threats from fishing are also a big problem. They get drowned in fishing nets, killed by fishermen, have their prey disrupted from overfishing, experience issues of pollution, and suffer from habitat loss from commercial icebreakers.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/