Seals and sea lions can recall and repeat what they have just done if they are asked to do it within 18 seconds. The discovery implies that they have some type of awareness, as they appear to be aware of their behaviors. They also seem to understand that something unusual has happened to them because they seek out human contact.
Seals have been known to follow boats and ships in order to find food, but this is the first evidence of them remembering things they have seen before they ate them. The study was conducted by Australian scientists who wanted to know if animals such as dolphins and whales have advanced cognitive abilities. They tested eight young male seals by having researchers throw fish into a pool where they could see others being fed from underwater. Each time this activity took place, the researchers would ask the seals questions about what they had seen before eating the fish. Most of the times, the seals would answer correctly! This experiment showed that these animals have memory skills that people use every day without even thinking about it.
It is believed by some scientists that animals with larger brains tend to have better memories than those with smaller brains. This theory is called "the bigger your brain, the better your memory." However, there are studies showing that this is not always true. Some primates with large brains make mistakes when trying to remember things while other animals with smaller brains never show any sign of memory loss.
Seals and sea lions are "pinniped" marine animals that differ in physical traits and adaptations. Sea lions (left) are brown and have obvious ear flaps. They bark loudly and "walk" on land using their enormous flippers. Seals have short flippers, move about on land on their stomachs, and have no apparent ear flaps. Although both animals are aquatic during part of their lives, seals are more reliant on water for protection from predators and for breeding.
Seals are found in all oceans, while sea lions are restricted to the northern hemisphere. There are two types of seals: fur seals and sea lions. Fur seals are white or dark-brown in color with a thick layer of hair that provides insulation against the cold ocean waters. They feed on fish, squid, and octopuses, which they catch by diving down to 400 feet (120 m) for food. Male fur seals grow large tusks to compete with other males for mating rights. Female fur seals do not need to fight for mates; instead, they rely on their pheromones to attract potential partners.
Sea lions are gray or brown in color with a thin layer of hair that does not provide much protection from the heat of the sun or the cold waters. Like fur seals, sea lions eat fish, squid, and octopuses but also consume clams, worms, and other marine organisms when available. Unlike fur seals, sea lions eat everything in their path as they walk on land to find food.
On shore, seals and sea lions are quickly startled and may flee into the ocean or leave their babies. Seals and sea lions visit the beach to relax, maintain their body temperature, and milk their young. While feeding offshore, mothers frequently abandon their young. This behavior is also used as a way for siblings to share food.
Seals and sea lions can be found in oceans around the world, but they are most common in the waters off North America and Europe. They are listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Changes in fishing practices have been linked to declines of seal populations.
Mother seals depart from their pup isolation about two weeks after birth. The mother-young bond during this time is important because it prepares the pup for life at sea where there are no adults to rely on for protection. The pup's brain develops rapidly during these first few weeks and the young animal is able to swim and play within days of being born. However, due to their small size and immature brains, newborn seals are extremely vulnerable to danger in their first few weeks of life.
While nursing, mothers teach their young how to feed by repeatedly dipping their heads beneath the surface to swallow water. They also teach them how to find food by swimming together until the pup learns what sounds make their parent move forward or back, left or right.
Seals have extremely sensitive whiskers that allow them to hunt efficiently even in low-light situations. Their finely designed whiskers can sense disturbances caused by other species moving through the water even as they move themselves. This allows the seal to remain still and avoid detection while searching for food.
In addition to helping seals find food, their whiskers are also used to communicate with other seals. When a seal is alarmed or excited, his whiskers will rise up off of his skin. This is another way seals show emotion like when they're angry or afraid.
There are two types of whiskers: guard hairs and sensory hairs. Seal whiskers are made up mostly of guard hairs which are thick and coarse. They protect the seal's skin from damage caused by rocks and ice while providing an appearance that is useful in hiding him from predators. The smaller number of sensory hairs that make up the seal's whisker help it detect movement in its surrounding environment.
Guard hairs are always found on top of seal hair, whereas sensory hairs may be found anywhere on the seal's body including inside its mouth. Seals that live in colder climates have more guard hairs than those that live in warmer regions because guard hairs help the seal keep warm by preventing heat from escaping through his skin.
Finally, seals are less sociable than sealions. They spend more time in the ocean than sea lions and frequently live alone in the wild, only coming ashore once a year to meet and breed. Although they will often swim close to shore looking for food, this is not their main source of nourishment; instead, they rely primarily on fish.
Thus, it can be said that seals are not very social animals while sea lions are quite sociable. This difference in temperament does not stop both species from being able to co-exist quite happily in the same area.
There have been reports of conflicts between seals and sea lions, but these cases are rare. If such encounters do occur, usually the seals are the victims. Seals tend to avoid sea lions because they believe them to be a threat to their existence. The sea lion's main defense against predators is its loud bark, which can be heard for miles at a time, but this isn't enough to deter an attack from a hungry seal. In fact, seals are known to kill and eat sea lions when given the opportunity.
Overall, both seals and sea lions deserve our respect as intelligent individuals who deserve to live their lives in peace.