Text Mart Jüssi, www.promare.ee
Illustration Rein Kuresoo
Seals are the top predators of the marine fish-eaters and dependant on the diversity of the prey. They remain at the top of the food pyramid thanks to the many interdependent fish, plants and animals. In the Baltic this pyramid is falling apart; from this seals too suffer.
Fish and fishing
Fishermen and seals often fish in the same areas and for the same fish. On one hand it causes fishermen anger, on the other hand many seals and birds perish in the fishing gear. In the race to catch the last fish there are no winners, for the by-catches of the fish industry there is no justification!
Poor health of the sea
The health of the predators, particularly their reproductive rate, mirrors the real degree of marine pollution. Being the end consumers of the environmental toxins, all the poisons spinning in the food chain accumulate in them. Seals eat the same fish as we do.
Marine traffic safety and oil spill
Seals are creatures of pure waters. Seals must also breathe air, because of this oil patches are dangerous for diving animals. The heavy fuel oil washed up on ice or ashore kills the seal pups that suck the polluted milk of their mothers.
Proliferation of algae
The eutrophication of waters robs the seals of their food – many fish fry do not survive the ”bloom” of algae. The excessive fertilisation of fields in the hope of greater harvests thus robs those of food who cannot cultivate it themselves.
Ringed seals arrived here from the cold climate of the Arctic and remain in the Baltic thanks to the cold winters. The mild winters do not favour these animals but they cannot go back towards north – there is no connection to the Arctic Ocean. They have to stay, in the vagaries of ice shortage.
The sea is getting crowded
Looking from an aeroplane, both shores of the Baltic are visible. Ships, harbours, bridges and wind farms cover a major part of this limited space. The seals need peace and quiet. If we would leave them a small corner?