AUG 11, 2017 5:38 AM PDT

Here's Why These Essex-Based Seals Are Orange

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

From time to time, wild animals can turn abnormal colors. Albinism or leucism are leading causes of this phenomenon, but in other cases, the animals' living conditions can cause non-natural pigment colorization.

Seals, for example, are typically gray, but a particular group of the creatures located at the Hamford Water Estuary in Essex appears to be taking on an orange hue instead.

Seals in Essex have turned orange, and experts elaborate on why.

Image Credit: Essex Wildlife Trust

Locals have become quite fond of the seals' unique color, but despite what looks like a fake tan, it’s far from it.

In fact, similarly to the South Carolina-based alligator that turned orange earlier this year, the Essex Wildlife Trust says that these seals turned this color because of the iron oxide particles residing in the mud they slide around on. In other words, it's caused by rust.

The briny environment they live in oxidizes iron particles in the ground rather quickly, so it's an entirely natural effect.

“They get a curious lining of orangey red color because they lie in salt environments,” explained Mark Iley of the Essex Wildlife Trust.

“Their hair becomes died, a bit like Henna, it takes on oxidation from the mud. It's unique to Essex and southeast England where there are salt water marshes.”

The creatures frequently hop out of the water and shimmy their way up onto higher parts of the dry land. As they do so, their fur and skin become infused and stained by the iron oxide in the mud.

Although having rust particles all over their bodies might seem a bit concerning at first, the Essex Wildlife Trust confirmed that the iron oxide doesn’t have any adverse health effects on the seals. When the creatures inevitably molt in the future, they’ll shed their fur along with the iron oxide stains.

Source: BBC, SWNS

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAY 17, 2020
Plants & Animals
Is This the First Known Swimming Dinosaur?
MAY 17, 2020
Is This the First Known Swimming Dinosaur?
If you think back to most of Hollywood’s dinosaur-based films, then you’ll probably remember that the bulk o ...
MAY 25, 2020
Plants & Animals
Ever Wonder How Some Fish Produce Electricity?
MAY 25, 2020
Ever Wonder How Some Fish Produce Electricity?
When you hear the term ‘electric fish,’ the first thing that probably comes to mind is the infamous electric ...
MAY 25, 2020
Plants & Animals
Cuttlefish Are Amazing, and Here's Why
MAY 25, 2020
Cuttlefish Are Amazing, and Here's Why
Many people have heard of the cuttlefish but haven’t actually seen one in person – and we’re just goin ...
JUN 09, 2020
Plants & Animals
The Awesome Science Behind Chameleons
JUN 09, 2020
The Awesome Science Behind Chameleons
Most people recognize the humble chameleon as a type of lizard that can change its body colors. But contrary to popular ...
JUN 28, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Low-Level Chemical Exposure Causes Heritable Changes in Fish
JUN 28, 2020
Low-Level Chemical Exposure Causes Heritable Changes in Fish
Scientists used a fish called the inland silverside, Menidia beryllina, to show that even small amounts of chemicals tha ...
JUL 15, 2020
Plants & Animals
New Research Reveals Beluga Whale Social Networks
JUL 15, 2020
New Research Reveals Beluga Whale Social Networks
The familial and social relationships between whales, such as orcas and bottlenose dolphins, are moderately understood. ...
Loading Comments...