【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape (26) Cute, white ribbon seal cubs

A ribbon seal and her cub snuggled together on an ice floe

The drift ice that, during the winter, covered the coastal region of the town of Rausu on the Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido is blown from the shore by the southerly winds. The sunlight reflects on the surface of the sea, heralding the arrival of spring.

 Boarding a small sightseeing boat, we set out toward a strip of drift ice offshore, in search of ribbon seals. The seals that inhabit the sea around Shiretoko are mainly the two spotted and ribbon varieties. Both varieties give birth to their cubs on the ice in spring. Compared to spotted seals, ribbon seals and their cubs are more difficult to find as they inhabit the offshore areas.

 Like the spotted seal – which is known by the nickname of “Goma-chan” and is a protective white color that blends in with the ice – newly born ribbon seal cubs are also cute. They are not so cautious of their surroundings and, if you’re lucky, you may even be able to encounter a scene of a suckling cub.

 However, the birth of ribbon seals coincides with the period in which the drift ice heads north. The possibility of being able to photograph such scenes depends on whether or not drift ice remains within a distance accessible by boat from Rausu.


Rausu Town