During the COVID-19 Epidemic, Four Inspections of Spot Seals were Carried Out | Volunteers from CBCGDF CCA for Spotted Seal at Dalian were in Action
2020/5/8 14:47:00 本站

Editor's Note: The influence of marine ecological environment caused by global climate change on the survival of spotted seal. With global warming in recent years, it has also changed the breeding ground and habitat environment of the spotted seal. In particular, due to the shortening and northing of the freezing period, the breeding spotted seal was forced to move northward.


During the outbreak, Tang Zailin, director of CBCGDF’s Community Conservation Area for Spotted Seal at Dalian (CCAfa), and several volunteers visited the habitat of the spotted seal in China 4 times to patrol the living environment of the spotted seal. "It is of great significance for us to participate in the inspection and protection of spotted seal's habitats in Liaodong Bay, understand the living conditions of the spotted seal, carry out research on marine ecological environment, and enter fishing villages for science popularization", Mr. Tang said. The purpose of the spotted seal habitat patrol in Liaodong Bay is to promote people to understand the importance of the spotted seal protection, popularize laws and regulations on wildlife protection, and improve the awareness of the people to protect animals (especially the spotted seal).


With the same sky and the same dream, it is imperative to protect biodiversity.


A Report on the Patrol of the Habitat of Spotted Seal in Dalian, Liaodong Bay


In the summer of 2019, the high temperature sweeping many parts of the world makes people feel the power of global warming. Global warming has a direct impact on the marine ecological environment, which makes the marine natural environment protection face severe challenges. The decrease of sea ice year by year has posed a threat to the marine ecosystem and affected the living environment of marine mammals. Due to the retreat of sea ice, it is not only polar bears but also spotted seal that has lost their places of survival and prey.


The frozen area of Liaodong Bay is the southernmost of the eight breeding areas of spotted seal in the world. From the end of January to the end of February every year, it is the breeding period of spotted seal in Liaodong Bay. Dozens of kilometers of sea ice row in Liaodong Bay was once the natural breeding bed of spotted seal.


With global warming in recent years, it has also changed the living environment of breeding ground and habitat of the spotted seal. In particular, due to the shortening and northing of the freezing period, the breeding spotted seal was forced to move northward.


Patrol activities are divided into maritime patrol and ground surveys. After the first group of volunteers boarded the boat and went out to sea, the second group conducted a publicity survey and visit to the local fishermen. During the sea patrol, volunteers found about 89 spotted seals. From time to time, they showed their small heads from the sea surface, they are very cute. Since it was the high tide of the sea, the volunteers did not see more spotted seals. Volunteers of the ground publicity group distributed posters and calendars about protecting spotted seal in various communities and streets and conducted random surveys around the topic of the spotted seal, to make every villagers and fisherman realize the importance of protecting spotted seal. We should resolutely curb the occurrence of poaching of spotted seal and make them live a safe winter.


According to the original plan, the Dalian spotted seal project team will also go to Changxing Island spotted seal reserve to carry out a series of publicity and education activities for the local fishing village villagers and the fishermen and children in the local primary and secondary school winter camp, which also stopped indefinitely due to the prevention and control of coronavirus. On this day last year, a large number of spotted seal cubs were reported to have been found in a farm in Laohutun Town, Wafangdian, Dalian City, Liaoning Province. Dalian Changxing Island police seized 100 poached spotted seals here. At that time, 37 cubs of spotted seal died, and 10 cubs of spotted seal died after being placed. The surviving spotted seal cubs were sent to Liaoning Academy of Marine Sciences, Tiger Beach Polar Museum, Sanya Ocean World, and other institutions for rescue. Subsequently, 61 surviving spotted seal cubs were released in two batches in the Bohai Sea.


At this time, the Bohai Sea is approaching the coldest season. The spotted seal that is now living on the islands and reefs in the south of Dalian are used to giving birth on the islands and reefs or the beach when there is no ice row in the delivery period.


During the breeding period, spotted seal spends most of their lives with their cubs. No matter on the ice row, on the island, or on the beach, they like to bask in the sun and sleep during their lactation. At this time, they are most easily hunted by poachers.


In the northern coastal area of Liaodong Bay, the ice age is short, the ice layer is not thick, and the ice row is not very strong, and the spotted seal cubs are born soon. Since the fur hasn’t been removed and they cannot go into the water, they can only drift southward with the ice row, and sometimes go ashore when the ice melts. So, in this year's breeding period, there is news of the rescued spotted seal cubs from Dalian, Panjin, and other places. Through photos or video observation, most of the cubs are the ones whose fetal hair has not been completely removed.


The life span of a spotted seal is about 35 years. Female spotted seal enters the mature stage at about 4 years old, while male seals enter the mature stage at about 5 years old. In the first year, the mortality rate of cubs is about 45%. Most of them are caused by natural factors such as activities disturbance or ice sheet melting, drifting, falling into the water, and overflow before depilation.


In recent years, Dalian municipal government and Spotted Seal National Nature Reserve have established a spotted seal conservation base on Huping Island, aiming to strengthen the management of the sea areas and islands within the reserve, forbid man-made boarding and fishing, and forbid fishermen to fish in the surrounding sea areas. The local fishermen's awareness of environmental protection has generally improved, and they seldom come to the waters around Huping island to fish. The local fishery resources also recovered quickly, which provided abundant food sources for the spotted seal to inhabit and increased the population of the spotted seal.


Dr. Lu Zhichuang, Liaoning Academy of Marine Sciences, said that as an indicator species of ecological environment, such a large number of spotted seal chose the sea area of Huping Island, even in summer, they still lingered, indicating that the food here is abundant and the living environment is suitable, which can meet the survival needs of the population.


In May, when spring and summer intersect, the spotted seal in Liaodong Bay leads the newly born cubs to migrate. Their migration routes are from north to south, around the Korean Peninsula, and then went to the north and west of the Northwest Pacific Ocean, such as the Okhotsk Sea, Chukchi Sea, Bering Sea, and their coasts and islands for the summer. In November, when autumn and winter intersect, the spotted seal will migrate from north to south and return to the Bohai Sea via China's Yellow Sea for breeding. This is the story with the spotted seal in Liaodong Bay, they migrate from year to year in their 35-year life journey.


Thanks to the World Wide Fund for Nature (World Wildlife Fund/WWF) for supporting this project.







(Photo credit: Zhang Fengxiang, Zou Dexiu, Ye Peng)

Original Chinese article:


By / Xue Tongtong Modified / Maggie