The Arctic Seal Who Is Afraid Of Ice
First there was Cinders, a pig, with a mud phobia (click Permalink for previous story), and now an Arctic Seal who hates ice, and keeps trying to escape to the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
Sahara, a Hooded Seal, first made headlines in April, 2007, when the then nine-month old pup washed up in the Canary Islands, near Northern Africa. The pup was overweight and had lost all its hair, something he would need to survive in the cold Arctic. He was flown to the Cornwall Seal Sanctuary in London where he was placed on a strict diet and nursed back to health. Fortunately his hair grew back and he was ready to go.
Fitted with an electronic device to track his progress, Sahara was released around the Orkney Islands near Scotland. However, instead of heading 1,000 miles to the north towards Greenland, Sahara turned again and swam 1,000 miles south, this time to the warm waters around the coast of Spain.
The scientists here are are now trying to get him used to what should be his natural environment - Sheets of Ice. Every day, the staff at the sanctuary shovels in half ton of ice around Sahara's pool.
Initially, Sahara would avoid the ice and stay at the opposite end of the pool. However, the staff persevered, luring Sahara to the ice by bribing him with fish. As days go by, Sahara seems more relaxed and is actually starting to enjoy the ice. Sometimes, he even gets brave enough to rub his face into it, and on good days even crunches some.
The chances of Sahara ever leaving the sanctuary are slim. He is not eating well and has been prone to a lot of infections. But, if over the years he does get better, he may even return to his real home - in the cold Arctic region.
Hooded Seals normally live on ice packs in the coldest regions of North America. They are male seals, deriving their name from a kind of hood that inflates like a balloon from their forehead to the mouth, whenever they are excited or threatened. Hooded Seals are loners, meeting with other seals only during short mating seasons. They feed on deep-water fish like redfish and herring, and can live up to thirty years in the wild.
Sources: Koaa.com, DailyMail.co.uk, BBC News.com