Earless seals, also known as true seals, are a group of marine mammals that belong to the family Phocidae. They are characterized by their lack of external ear flaps and their large, front flippers that are used for propulsion in the water.
They have a thick, insulated fur that keeps them warm in cold water. Size and weight can vary depending on the species, but adult males can grow up to 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) and weigh up to 600 kg (1,320 lbs) and adult females can grow up to 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) and weigh up to 250 kg (550 lbs).
Earless seals are found in various regions around the world, including the Arctic, Antarctic, and sub-Arctic regions, as well as along the coasts of the North and South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They can be found in areas with pack ice, rocky shorelines, sandy beaches, and estuaries.
Earless seals are opportunistic feeders and their diet can vary depending on the species and location. Some common prey items include fish, squid, and crustaceans. They can dive to depths of up to 600 meters (1,970 feet) in search of food.
Earless seals are generally solitary animals, but they can be seen congregating in large numbers during breeding season. They are known to use vocalizations such as barks and growls to communicate with each other. They are also known to use their front flippers to help them move on land or ice.
Earless seals include various species of true seals, such as the Leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx), the Southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), the Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), the Crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophagus) and the Bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus). They all belong to the family Phocidae, order Carnivora and class Mammalia.
Conservation status of earless seal species varies depending on the species. Some species such as the Southern elephant seal are considered “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to past hunting and habitat loss, while others such as the Harbor seal are considered “Least Concern” by the IUCN.