Rare Ginger Seal May Have To Be Rescued After Being Shunned By Its Colony

by : Emily Brown on : 09 Sep 2020 15:40
Rare Ginger Seal May Have To Be Rescued After Being Shunned By Its ColonyVladimir Burkanov/Instagram

A rare ginger seal pup may have to be rehomed by biologists unless its colony accepts its unique look. 

The golden pup was born less than a month ago on the island of Tyuleny in the sea of Okhotsk, Russia, where a large colony of seals reside. It was spotted by marine mammal biologist Vladimir Burkanov during a field trip to the island.


The young seal stands out against its dark-furred companions because it is partially albino, meaning it has golden fur, blue eyes and pink flippers.

See the seal with its colony here:

Experts say the chances of such a partial albino birth are one in 100,000, and while it is incredibly cute, the pup has been dubbed the ‘ugly duckling’ because it looks so different from the rest of the colony.


A few years ago, another ginger seal called Nafanya was rejected by its peers because it looked so different; now biologists fear the same could happen to the new seal pup.

Ginger seal pupVladimir Burkanov/Instagram

Burkanov says the fur seal has not become a total outcast yet, but that there are signs of it being slightly shunned, the Siberian Times reports.

He commented:


This pup looks well fed and was very active, so its mother clearly gave it plenty of milk.

Other seals don’t pay too much attention to it in a somewhat worrying manner, so something is not quite right with it. But it is not getting chased or bitten.

The ginger seal is thought to have poor eyesight, and based on his knowledge and experience of years of observing fur seals, Burkanov believes its chances of growing old and breeding are slim-to-none.

Ginger seal pupVladimir Burkanov/Instagram

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Experts will now monitor the rookery to make sure they can rescue the young pup if it gets rejected. If that’s the case, the seal will likely be taken to a Russian dolphinarium like Nafanya, who was adopted to Sochi in the south of Russia.


There is some hope for the young pup, however, as Burkanov shared an image on Instagram of a partially-albino adult seal at the Severo-Zapadnoe rookery on Bering Island.

View this post on Instagram

Альбинос-хромист – продолжение: Фотография котика альбиноса, или более правильно будет сказать – хромиста, вызвала интерес у и вопросы у посетителей. Я помню осенью 2017 года на лежбище Северо-Западном острова Беринга мой бывший студент, а теперь коллега, работающий на Командорских островах, Сергей Фомин фотографировал самца-холостяка такой же необычной окраски. Он был хорошо упитан, хотя имел явные проблемы со зрением. Я обратился к нему за уточнением возраста того альбиноса, и Сергей сообщил мне, что видел и снял этого же самца в этом году! И на том же самом месте Северо-Западного лежбища, где он его фотографировал осенью 2017 года. Теперь он уже секач, достиг половой зрелости и ему 5-6 лет. Но находился на нерепродуктивной части лежбища. Т.е. в размножение в этом сезоне не вступал. Пожалуй, это первый документально зафиксированный случай дожития котика аномальной окраски до половозрелого возраста. Albino fur seal – continued: A photo of an albino (partial albino or chromist) fur seal pup aroused the interest of visitors to my page. I tried to find information on the age of similar unusual color of young fur seal, my former student, and now a colleague Sergey Fomin photographed at the Severo-Zapadnoe rookery on the Bering Island in fall 2017. The animal was 2 or 3 years old and physically in good shape, even it was clear it had poor sight. I turned to him to clarify the age of that albino, and Sergeн replayed me that he had seen and photographed the same male this summer again! In the exact location of the Severo-Zapadnoe rookery, where he photographed the animal in the fall of 2017. The albino is now matured bull 5-6 years old. He did not participate in reproduction this season and was seen on the bachelor section of the rookery only. Perhaps, this is the first documented case of the survival of a northern fur seal of an abnormal color to adulthood.

A post shared by Vladimir Burkanov (@bigdaddivladi) on

Alongside the picture, he wrote:

He did not participate in reproduction this season and was seen on the bachelor section of the rookery only.

Perhaps, this is the first documented case of the survival of a northern fur seal of an abnormal colour to adulthood.


Hopefully the ‘ugly duckling’ seal will be welcomed by its colony; its unique looks don’t make it any less of a seal!

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Animals, Albino, Now, rescue, Russia, wildlife


Vladimir Burkanov/Instagram and 1 other
  1. Vladimir Burkanov/Instagram


  2. Siberian Times

    Rare blue-eyed ginger seal pup found by Russian biologists at Sea of Okhotsk rookery