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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Squawking Seals and Scampering Squirrels

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

Beautiful day to enjoy Dana Point!

It was a wonderful day to photograph seals, squirrels, birds, and boats!

Seals are very intelligent creatures, and, as mammals, they do form social attachments. They've been shown to form social bonds with wildlife experts and caretakers. However, seals are wild animals, and they can become aggressive and injure you.

"Pinnipeds, commonly known as seals, are a widely distributed and diverse clade of carnivorous, fin-footed, semiaquaticmarine mammals. They comprise the extantfamilies Odobenidae(whose only living member is the walrus), Otariidae (the eared seals: sea lions and fur seals), and Phocidae (the earless seals, or true seals). There are 33 extant species of pinnipeds, and more than 50 extinct species have been described from fossils. While seals were historically thought to have descended from two ancestral lines, molecular evidence supports them as a monophyletic lineage (descended from one ancestral line). Pinnipeds belong to the order Carnivora ; their closest living relatives are bears and the superfamily of musteloids (weasels, raccoons, skunks, and red pandas), having diverged about 50 million years ago."

Seals range in size from the 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and 45 kg (99 lb) to the 5 m (16 ft) and 3,200 kg (7,100 lb).

"They have streamlined bodies and four limbs that are modified into flippers. Though not as fast in the water as dolphins, seals are more flexible and agile. Otariids use their front limbs primarily to propel themselves through the water, while phocids and walruses use their hind limbs. Otariids and walruses have hind limbs that can be pulled under the body and used as legs on land. By comparison, terrestrial locomotion by phocids is more cumbersome. Otariids have visible external ears, while phocids and walruses lack these. Pinnipeds have well-developed senses—their eyesight and hearing are adapted for both air and water, and they have an advanced tactile system in their whiskers or vibrissae. Some species are well adapted for diving to great depths. They have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin to keep warm in the cold water, and, other than the walrus, all species are covered in fur."

The eyes of pinnipeds are relatively large for their size and are positioned near the front of the head.

A seal's eye is adapted for seeing both underwater and in air. The lens is mostly spherical, and much of the retina is equidistant from the lens center. The cornea has a flattened center where refraction is nearly equal in both water and air. Pinnipeds also have very muscular and vascularized irises. The well-developed dilator muscle gives the animals a great range in pupil dilation. When contracted, the pupil is typically pear-shaped, although the bearded seal's is more diagonal. In species that live in shallow water, such as harbor seals and California sea lions, dilation varies little, while the deep-diving elephant seals have much greater variation.

"On land, pinnipeds are near-sighted in dim light. This is reduced in bright light, as the retracted pupil reduces the lens and cornea's ability to bend light. They also have a well-developed tapetum lucidum, a reflecting layer that increases sensitivity by reflecting light back through the rods. This helps them see in low-light conditions."

"The pinniped ear is adapted for hearing underwater, where it can hear sound frequencies at up to 70,000 Hz. In air, hearing is somewhat reduced in pinnipeds compared to many terrestrial mammals. While they are capable of hearing a wide range of frequencies (e.g. 500 to 32,000 Hz in the northern fur seal, compared to 20 to 20,000 Hz in humans), their airborne hearing sensitivity is weaker overall. One study of three species—the harbor seal, California sea lion and northern elephant seal—found that the sea lion was best adapted for airborne hearing, the harbor seal was equally capable of hearing in air and water, and the elephant seal was better adapted for underwater hearing. Although pinnipeds have a fairly good sense of smell on land, it is useless underwater as their nostrils are closed."

Open wide!!!

Surprised to see so many squirrels living amongst the rocks by the breakwater's edge. There are signs telling people not to feed the wildlife but no one paid attention to the signs.

What are they chatting about? Is it a secret?


Don't be a litterbug!! Throw your trash away!!!

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