The Bearded Seal in Alaska
Contrary to their name, the Bearded Seal doesn’t have a beard. Their name comes from two Greek words, “eri” and “gnathos,” which refers to their strong jaw. It does have very long whiskers that curl up when they are dry, giving it a very posh look that can compete with the walrus’ mustache. They are also the largest northern phocid family and are the only genus Erignathus members, making them very unique for the seal species. These beautiful creatures can weigh almost 1,000 pounds, so there’s no wonder they are a favorite of some predators.
Because of their high-fat content, bearded seals are a significant food source for polar bears. They are also a favorite for local natives like the Inuit, which not only are a substantial part of their diet but also use the blubber for burning it in their stone lamps called “kudlik.” Since their skins are very tough, they are also perfect for making shoes, whips, dog sled harnesses, and even to make summer tents. Overall, these precious seals are an essential part of the Alaskan wildlife and the people who live there.