The terrific bearded seal, a feisty and funny seal. It is sticking its head out of the water to investigate us. Showing us its long whiskers, super long whiskers, and looking same time into the camera. A few ice pieces floating in the Arctic sea surround this terrific animal.
We have not seen many seals as they are always very cautious and aloof creatures. Reason being that polar bears hunt and love to eat them. Therefore, we did not get many sightings. They are extremely shy, so whenever we came close to them on the ice, they would quickly race into the water.
Bearded seals shed their hair much more diffusely than other seals, losing some of their hair throughout the year. However, they do have a concentrated period of molting in June/July when they prefer not to go into the water. During these periods, there is not much ice for them to rest on, so you will find large groups of seals on one piece of ice. At any other time of the year, they are solitary animals.
Some bearded seals in Svalbard have rust-colored faces and fore-flippers. This coloration is the result of iron-compounds from soft-bottom substrates sticking to the hairs. At the same time, the animals feed and then chemically reacting with oxygen when brought to the surface. The rust is on their actual hair, not on them.
The bearded seal, Erignathus barbatus, is in the category of least concern on the IUCN red list.