Spraypainting baby seals?

So, I read a comment on a message board somewhere that at one point, Greenpeace interfered in seal hunts in Canada by spraypainting seals with spray paint to make the pelts unsellable. The comment went on to say that this made the seals easier for polar bears to catch, leading to more seals being eaten by polarbears.

Reading in various places it seems that Greenpeace did indeed going about spraypainting animals, but did it have any real effect on how easy it would have been for a polar bear to catch a seal? Do Polar Bear parents teach their young not to eat green seals, kinda like how my parents taught me to toss out any food that had turned a different color? Would they even notice or care about the color difference one way or another?

Don’t want to make this about the rights or wrongs of animal activism or whatever, just wondering about the painting seals thing in particular.

WAG, black bears and brown bears can see in color so I assume that polar bears can see in color too. When you are going after a target, particularly a target that will be in a large group of similar targets, chasing one which is easily identifiable will have the greatest chances of success. Instead of trying to focus on one white seal in a cloud of white seals, the bear will have better luck getting to the seal if it is a different color than the others.

Yes, the one that stands out from the pack is the one that gets targetted by predators.

By providing an eyecatching mark on one seal, Greepeace are saving the life of another seal.

Hmm… so would that be a net benefit? (though, likely, an unintended one?)

True - also my understanding is that seals are not killed for their skin, they are killed because they breed like rabbits and eat a heck of a lot of fish.

What about smell? Maybe in the first few days the paint smell makes the animal stand out to predators? I don’t know anything about them, its only a guess on my part.

The paint just needs to be specially formulated to avoid these unpleasant side effects. Bombarding the paint with negatively charged particles causes no perceptible change to the human eye, but renders it invisible to most animals, including the predatory polar bears.

Basically they end up perceived as “seal ions”.

I… can’t decide if that’s a pun or not. :slight_smile:

Oh, I’m positive.

The original article seems to suggest that identifying seals will result in polar bears catching and eating more than they would otherwise. I’m sceptical of that.

Presumably the only real problem is that a lot of paint will be wasted if those seals that are painted are killed, as they can then not be hunted anyway. Also, I guess, if only young seals are painted (I remember the adverts with the seal cub looking big-eyed into the camera) then there could be problems with continuing population.

Oh and FRDE, I think you’re probably right but certainly over here all the adverts showed concern for the fact that they were killed for pelts rather than for them being a nuisance or for food.

Amusingly enough, for me, most of the adverts are for stress relief. Yep, whacking baby seals with a club is GREAT stress relief! (Actually… I’d need to look again, but when I was researching before asking this question, I found a flash game where you played a baby seal who went about clubbing eskimos :smiley: )

There must be some colors that would be camouflaging instead of revealing. The arctic is full of subtle colors, blues and greys and greens.

Was this supposed to be another pun?

As in, seal ions —> “positive” ?

I thought it was Cat Ions that were positive?

They need to paint all the snow green as well, then the green seals will blend in.

Don’t be so particular.

“Seal ions” --> “sea lions”

I remember the seal-painting business well - it was really where Greenpeace got their start, IIRC.

Baby harp seals are pure white for just a few weeks after they’re born, then they molt and become spotted like the adults. Greenpeace would come and spray-paint them green specifically to ruin their value to fur traders, who came to the rookeries and clubbed large numbers of them to sell for pure white coats. They clubbed them over the head, because shooting them would damage the pelt.

I suppose there might have been in issue with polar bears, but I’ve never heard of it before, and I find it questionable. The reason the seals were so easy to club is that they lived on islands and had no fear of predators. If polar bears were any kind of danger to them, I would think they ***would ***have a fear of predators.

Greenpeace painted as many as they could, so the paint wouldn’t make any one seal stand out as a target. And the paint was lost with the first molt, so it would have no effect on future mating either.

Then again, if static electricity made the seal ions stick to the snow, that might have impaired their mobility …

Surely, we can tell by which pole they choose to congregate around.

which pole of the polar bear?