How do seals swim?


Quick Answer

A seal swims by thrusting itself forward with its back flippers and undulating the bottom of its body like a fish. Meanwhile, it holds its front flippers against its sides to swim quickly or uses them to stabilize itself when swimming slowly.

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Full Answer

A seal has four short limbs that end in long flippers. The flippers are webbed and act as oars or paddles to helps move the seal more efficiently through the water. Its front flippers come equipped with claws to give it better traction on ice. A seal moves more awkwardly on land, sliding along by transferring its weight from its chest to its pelvis. This hitching gait is far less clumsy on the ice.

A seal is also equipped with a thick layer of blubber to insulate it from the cold, a feature that is particularly important for those species that live in the Arctic and Antarctic. A thick coat traps air while the seal is in the water, adding a further protective layer to the animal. If the seal overheats, it raises its front flippers out of the water so that heat can escape from the blood vessels. Despite being a mammal, a seal dives and swims with ease and spends the majority of its life in the ocean. However, it does spend time on land to give birth.

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