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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

THE WHITE SEAL

Being a massive Kipling fan I was immediately drawn to the story of the white southern elephant seal spotted on a sub-Antarctic beach.


OK Kipling's hero Kotick was a completely different species, from a completely different hemisphere, but it isa a singular occurrence. Even more singular when, the BBC claims, it is the first confirmed sighting of such an animal.


Eared seals, which include sea lions and fur seals are more usually seen sporting unusual colours, but not true seals, a group which includes elephant seals. Details of the seal, which has creamy white fur but normal brown eyes and nose, have been published in the journal Polar Biology.

Do they mean that this is the first albino (or leucistic by the looks of it) true seal? Or the first white elephant seal? C'mon guys, we need answers.

1 comment:

Retrieverman said...

Maybe we could call it a golden elephant seal.

I've seen Northern Elephant seals, and the cows are a kind of sandy color.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2400/2194916004_c36e3b54ea.jpg?v=0

I doubt that a Northern Elephant seal got lost and then wound up within with a pod of Southern Elephant seals. However, it's possible.

However, the shading is quite a bit different from a typical Northern elephant seal. The shape of the animal isn't quite like that of a Northern elephant seal, so my guess is it is an unusual color. However, it may change colors once it molts.

Northern elephant seals are heavily inbred. They nearly went extinct in the last century. Whalers who wanted to augment their cargo of train oil would stop by their rookeries and kill these seals for their blubber, which they then cooked down into oil.

The population may have dropped down as low as 50-100 individuals. Considering that there are now 100,000 animals and considering that these are harem breeders (with only a few males breeding each year), we know that the genetic diversity of this species is greatly compromised.

BTW, I've always loved that Kipling story. Like most Kipling works, that one has a political subtext. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is another one with some political underpinnings.