Today, living in the world, there 33 species of pinnipeds, most of which are known as seals. They range greatly in size, from the gargantuan southern elephant seal, which can weigh more than a pickup truck, to the relatively slender, 100-pound Baikal seal.
Even though there are a lot of differences among these species they share a few similarities, too. Like, all seals have feet shaped like fins, and all of them are considered semi-aquatic marine mammals, and also, they know how to have fun. And some photographers often catch them literally rolling in laughter as if they’ve just overheard the best joke ever.
Leonie Sophia van den Hoek, a scientific and fantasy writer who’s a marine biologist and scientific researcher with a deep passion for anything related to the sea, oceans, coral, and mammals. “The diversity of seals is greatest in seasonally ice-covered seas where the risk of predation is minimized. Simply said, they like cold-water environments. A majority of them live in the Arctic and Antarctic waters. Harbor, ringed, ribbon, spotted, and bearded seals, as well as northern fur seals, live in the Arctic region,” she said.
When it comes to the seals’ laughter, Leonie was absolutely ruthless. “I really don’t want to destroy the fun of seeing smiling seals, but there is no scientific proof that they are actually smiling. The ends of most seals’ mouths are permanently curled upward. This can create the illusion of a smile or grin and it looks very adorable… but the truth is that they are opening their mouth for most likely a yawn.”
She also said: “Watching seals is a lot of fun and very interesting. Seals may look cute, like fin-footed puppies, but you should not approach them. Seals have a powerful bite which could put even a pit bull to shame. So my advice is to take photos of them laughing from a distance and when you see a seal puppy alone on the shore, don’t approach him. Sometimes the parent goes into the water to hunt and even though the baby might look lonely or unhealthy, the best thing to do is to call a nearby seal rescue center.”