One of the more enlightening narratives that can be pieced together from the academic archives is the story of the stranded freshwater seals.
The story begins [very roughly] 26,000 years ago at the start of the last Ice Age.
The last Ice Age was [so we are told] a fearsome beast that managed to generate ice sheets that were 3 or 4 kilometres thick that eventually stretched down to [about] the 45th parallel in North America and in Europe the ice sheet engulfed Scandinavia and the Baltic Basin.
During the most recent North American glaciation, during the latter part of the Wisconsin Stage (26,000 to 13,300 years ago), ice sheets extended to about 45 degrees north latitude.
These sheets were 3 to 4 km thick.
However, these dates are academic variables [aka inconsistent] that change with the wind.
The Last Glacial Maximum, the maximum extent of glaciation within the last glacial period, was approximately 22,000 years ago.
The end of the last glacial period was about 10,500 BCE, while the end of the last ice age has not yet come.
Growth of the ice sheets reached their maximum positions 26,500 years ago.
Deglaciation commenced in the Northern Hemisphere approximately 19,000 years ago, and in Antarctica approximately 14,500 years ago which is consistent with evidence that this was the primary source for an abrupt rise in the sea level 14,500 years ago.
The story goes that the advancing ice sheets engulfed the land and surface dwelling creatures were presented with some very stark choices: migrate, adapt or die.
The Arctic Ocean oceans faired no better because [according to the mainstream diagrams] the Arctic Basin was choked with deep multi-year pack ice [that had developed over thousands of years] and the summer sea ice limited extended into the northern Pacific Ocean and even surrounded Iceland in the northern Atlantic Ocean.
Clearly, the last Ice Age [that officially lasted for about 12,700 years] should have presented some severe challenges to ringed seals which inhabit the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.
The ringed seal, also known as the jar seal and as netsik or nattiq by the Inuit, is an earless seal inhabiting the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.
The ringed seal is a relatively small seal, rarely greater than 1.5 m in length, with a distinctive patterning of dark spots surrounded by light grey rings, whence its common name.
It is the most abundant and wide-ranging ice seal in the Northern Hemisphere: ranging throughout the Arctic Ocean, into the Bering Sea and Okhotsk Sea as far south as the northern coast of Japan in the Pacific, and throughout the North Atlantic coasts of Greenland and Scandinavia as far south as Newfoundland, and include two freshwater subspecies in northern Europe.
Ringed seals are one of the primary prey of polar bears and have long been a component of the diet of indigenous people of the Arctic.
Seals literally live on the edge because although they “spend most of their lives in the water” they also retreat to the relative safely of the land and/or ice “to mate, give birth, molt or escape from predators”.
Pinnipeds, commonly known as seals, are a widely distributed and diverse clade of carnivorous, fin-footed, semiaquatic marine mammals.
Although pinnipeds are widespread, most species prefer the colder waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
They spend most of their lives in the water, but come ashore to mate, give birth, molt or escape from predators, like sharks and killer whales.
They feed largely on fish and marine invertebrates; but a few, like the leopard seal, feed on large vertebrates, such as penguins and other seals.
Walruses are specialized for feeding on bottom-dwelling mollusks
In temperate and tropical areas, they haul-out on to sandy and pebble beaches, rocky shores, shoals, mud flats, tide pools and in sea caves.
Some species also rest on man-made structures, like piers, jetties, buoys and oil platforms. Pinnipeds may move further inland and rest in sand dunes or vegetation, and may even climb cliffs.
Polar-living species haul-out on to both fast ice and pack ice.
Of the 33 species, 20 breed on land, and the remaining 13 breed on ice.
Ringed seals have “an affinity for ice-covered waters” and can maintain breathing holes in the ice.
Ringed seals occur throughout the Arctic Ocean.
They can be found in the Baltic Sea, the Bering Sea and the Hudson Bay.
They prefer to rest on ice floe and will move farther north for denser ice.
Throughout their range, ringed seals have an affinity for ice-covered waters and are well adapted to occupying seasonal and permanent ice.
They tend to prefer large floes (i.e., > 48 m in diameter) and are often found in the interior ice pack where the sea ice coverage is greater than 90%.
They remain in contact with ice most of the year and pup on the ice in late winter-early spring.
Ringed seals reside in arctic waters and are commonly associated with ice floes and pack ice.
The ringed seal maintains a breathing hole in the ice thus allowing it to use ice habitat that other seals cannot.
However, it seems extremely doubtful that even the resourceful ringed seals could have kept a breathing hole open for thousands of years in the deep multi-year pack ice that choked the Arctic Ocean during the last Ice Age.
When drift ice is driven together into a large single mass (>70% coverage), it is called pack ice.
Wind and currents can pile up that ice to form ridges up to several metres in height.
These represent a challenge for icebreakers and offshore structures operating in cold oceans and seas.
Overall, it seems entirely reasonable to expect that during the 12,700 years of the last Ice Age the Arctic Ocean became a Seal Exclusion Zone with seal populations forced to migrate to [at least] the summer sea ice boundaries in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
However expectations, official narrative and reality rarely coincide.
The multifaceted official narrative suggests that during the last Ice Age “there must even have been times of seasonally open waters” in the Arctic Ocean “like today”!
The Arctic Ocean between the huge ice sheets of America and Eurasia was not frozen throughout, but like today probably was only covered by relatively shallow ice, subject to seasonal changes and riddled with icebergs calving from the surrounding ice sheets.
According to the sediment composition retrieved from deep-sea cores there must even have been times of seasonally open waters.
Therefore, thus far, the mainstream has conceded [based upon sediment composition] that there was no detectable Ice Age in the Arctic Ocean and that it was just “like today”.
Unfortunately, for the mainstream Ice Age narrative, the evidence presented by the extant populations of isolated freshwater seals suggests that the last Ice Age was also just like today in North America and Europe because these stranded seals were not swept from the land locked lakes by advancing [3 or 4 kilometres thick] ice during the last Ice Age.
Generally speaking, it’s the advance of ice sheets that generate the greatest risks because the advance can isolate, engulf and eventually kill the unsuspecting who can’t survive the icy conditions for thousands of years.
However, it is difficult visualising how the advancing ice could have trapped seafaring seals in inland freshwater lakes [which are currently above sea level] during the last Ice Age when the sea level is said to have gradually dropped by 120 metres.
This is especially true for the populations of harbour seals that currently inhabit three freshwater lakes that are “about 150 km east of Hudson Bay”.
There is also a subspecies called the Ungava seal (Phoca vitulina mellonae) that comprises less than 300 individuals landlocked in the fresh water of Lacs des Loups Marins, Petit Lac de Loups Marins, and Lac Bourdel in northern Quebec.
Coordinates: 56°31′36″N 73°32′43″W
Lacs des Loups Marins is a lake in the north of the province of Quebec in Canada. It is located about 150 km east of Hudson Bay and about 20 km northeast of Lac à l’Eau Claire.
The name comes from its population of harbor seals (fr: loups marins or phoques). They belong to Phoca vitulina mellonae, the only seal subtype that lives year-round in fresh water.
Coordinates: 56°07′04″N 73°13′13″W
Le Petit lac des Loups Marins est une étendue d’eau du Nunavik, Québec, Canada
The shape of lake is rather complex because of the hundreds of islands, peninsulas and bays. Several areas of the lake would form independent lakes if the water level was lowered.
The Lacs des Loups Marins receives:
the east side of Little Lake waters des Loups Marins which is located south of the lake and near Iberville;
the north side, the waters of Lake Bourdel.
The harbor (or harbour) seal (Phoca vitulina), also known as the common seal, is a true seal found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere.
These three examples are not isolated cases because the historic record indicates that freshwater seals recently inhabited many of the larger freshwater lakes to the east of Hudson Bay.
Habitat use appears to be reduced since first mentioned by Low (1898) where seals were reported as far north as Lac Minto.
First Nation knowledge also mentioned freshwater seals in Golfe du Richmond and Lac à l’Eau Claire.
The current distribution appears to be limited to the Lac Bourdel, Lacs des Loups Marins and the Petit Lac des Loups Marins.
Recovery Potential Assessment For Freshwater Harbour Seal, Phoca Vitulina Mellonae, (LAC Des Loups Marins Designated Unit (DU))
Fisheries and Oceans – Canada : Science Advisory Report 2008/062
Lake Minto (Inuktitut: Qasigialik, “where there are spotted seals”) is a lake on western Ungava Peninsula, Nunavik, Quebec, Canada.
It has a total surface area of 761 square kilometres (294 sq mi) and a net area of 703 square kilometres (271 sq mi).
It is only some 60 kilometres (37 mi) east of Hudson Bay in a valley between several rows of hills, but Lake Minto’s outlet, the Leaf River, flows north-east for about 265 kilometres (165 mi) to Ungava Bay. As such, it is used by canoeists especially when crossing Ungava from west to east.
Coordinates: 56°12′36″N 76°00′40″W
La Rivière à l’Eau Claire is a river flowing on the east coast of Lake Guillaume-Delisle (formerly designated “Richmond Gulf”), which empties into the Hudson Bay.
River in Eau Claire is located in Nunavik, in the west of the Labrador Peninsula, in the administrative region of Nord-du-Québec, Quebec, Canada.
The spotted seal, also known as the larga or largha seal, is a member of the family Phocidae, and is considered a “true seal”.
It inhabits ice floes and waters of the north Pacific Ocean and adjacent seas.
It is also found in Alaska from the southeastern Bristol Bay to Demarcation Point during the ice-free seasons of summer and autumn when spotted seals mate and have pups.
Smaller numbers are found in the Beaufort Sea.
It is sometimes mistaken for the harbor seal to which it is closely related and spotted seals and harbor seals often mingle together in areas where their habitats overlap.
Moving across to the western coast of North American there is the curious case of the harbour seals [aka common seals] inhabiting the freshwater Iliamna Lake in Alaska.
Colonies of common seals live in some lakes, such as seals of Iliamna Lake, Alaska, trapped there a long time ago.
Iliamna Lake or Lake Iliamna is a lake in southwest Alaska, at the north end of the Alaska Peninsula, between Kvichak Bay and Cook Inlet, about 100 miles (160 km) west of Seldovia, Alaska.
The lake is 77 miles (124 km) long and up to 22 miles (35 km) wide, with a maximum depth of 988 feet (301 m). Through the Kvichak River, its waters drain into Bristol Bay.
Lake Iliamna also has one of few populations of freshwater seals in the world.
The Kvichak River is a large river, about 50 miles (80 km) long, in southwestern Alaska in the United States.
It flows southwest from Lake Iliamna to Kvichak Bay, an arm of Bristol Bay, on the Alaska Peninsula.
The Kvichak is navigable along its entire length, and is used as a short cut by boats getting between Cook Inlet and Bristol Bay via the Lake Iliamna portage.
It’s difficult to understand why these harbour seals would travel 80 kilometres upriver and become “trapped” in a freshwater lake when the Kvichak river is “navigable along its entire length”.
Harbor seals are not strictly marine, and, in some areas, they commonly enter fresh waters adjacent to their marine habitats.
Along the North American west coast, harbor seals temporarily enter rivers and estuaries where they forage on seasonally abundant anadromous fishes, particularly Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.)
Despite this ability and tendency to forage in fresh water, harbor seals rarely establish year-round populations in freshwater environments.
Iliamna Lake (approximately 121 km long and 32 km wide) is connected to Bristol Bay via the Kvichak River (approximately 80 km long).
Although seals must have colonized Iliamna Lake from Bristol Bay via the Kvichak River, there is no evidence that regular movement up or down the river now occurs (Mathisen & Kline, 1992) nor are there any major impediments to movement.
Resident Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina) in Iliamna Lake, Alaska: Summer Diet and Partial Consumption of Adult Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)
Donna D. W. Hauser, Christopher S. Allen, Harry B. Rich, Jr.,and Thomas P. Quinn
Aquatic Mammals 2008, 34(3), 303-309, DOI 10.1578/AM.34.3.2008.303
Especially when interglacial winter living conditions on this freshwater lake are so very tenuous.
The harbor seals of Iliamna Lake, Alaska, are the only known population of freshwater harbor seals on the Pacific Rim.
Living year-round at the largest lake in Alaska, their limited numbers make them highly sensitive to environmental disturbance.
However, their physical adaptations for freshwater might mean they are effectively “trapped” because they have become too buoyant for seawater diving and hunting.
There is a similar situation in the lakes east of the Baltic Sea where two subspecies of ringed seals are found in freshwater lakes that were supposedly buried under deep ice.
The Ladoga ringed seal, is a freshwater subspecies of the ringed seal (Pusa hispida) which are found entirely in Lake Ladoga in northwestern Russia.
It is related to the even smaller population of Saimaa ringed seals in Lake Saimaa, a lake that flows into Ladoga through the Vuoksi River.
The Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis) is a subspecies of ringed seal (Pusa hispida).
They are among the most endangered seals in the world, having a total population of only about 310 individuals.
The only existing population of these seals is found in Lake Saimaa, Finland.
The Wikipedia explanation for these freshwater ringed seals is intriguing.
The Ladoga seal apparently evolved “during the last ice age” 11,000 years when it was trapped as “water levels changed”.
The subspecies evolved during the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago.
As the glaciers retreated and water levels changed, the Baltic ringed seal (including Ladoga seals) was trapped in freshwater lakes and separated from the Arctic ringed seal.
Again, it’s again difficult to visualise quite how this occurred because 11,000 years ago the Baltic was meant to be an isolated freshwater lake [i.e. without marine seals] formed by the retreating Ice Age.
The Baltic Ice Lake is a name given by geologists to a freshwater lake that gradually formed in the Baltic Sea basin as glaciation retreated from that region at the end of the Pleistocene. The lake, dated to 12,600-10,300 BP, is roughly contemporaneous with the three Pleistocene Blytt-Sernander periods.
When it comes to the related Saimaa ringed seal Wikipedia applies a slightly different spin by suggesting they were “separated from the rest when the land rose after the last ice age” although [unsurprisingly] they carefully avoid identifying which body of seawater “the rest” inhabited.
The population is descended from ringed seals that were separated from the rest when the land rose after the last ice age.
The main factors are the advance or recession of the Scandinavian glacier and the isostatic sinking of the landforms due to the weight of ice or isostatic rebound (springing back) when relieved of it.
However, the problems ratchet up several notches when it comes to the Baikal seal that is endemic to Lake Baikal in Siberia.
The Baikal seal, Lake Baikal seal or nerpa (Pusa sibirica), is a species of earless seal endemic to Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia.
Like the Caspian seal, it is related to the Arctic ringed seal.
The Baikal seal is one of the smallest true seals and the only exclusively freshwater pinniped species.
It remains a scientific mystery how the seals originally came to Lake Baikal, hundreds of kilometers from any ocean.
Lake Baikal is a rift lake in Russia, located in southern Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and the Buryat Republic to the southeast.
Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, containing roughly 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface fresh water.
With a maximum depth of 1,642 m (5,387 ft), Baikal is the world’s deepest lake.
It is considered among the world’s clearest lakes and is considered the world’s oldest lake – at 25 million years.
It is the seventh-largest lake in the world by surface area.
With 23,615.39 km3 (5,700 cu mi) of fresh water, it contains more water than all the North American Great Lakes combined.
Like Lake Tanganyika, Lake Baikal was formed as an ancient rift valley, having the typical long crescent shape with a surface area of 31,722 km2 (12,248 sq mi).
The long Yenisey river flows broadly south to north, a distance of 2,195 mi., where it completes its journey, discharging more than 5 million gallons of water per second.
Together with its tributary Angara, the two rivers flow 3,435 mi.
Wikipedia states that it’s “something of a mystery how Baikal seals came to live there in the first place” and suggests they “may have swum up rivers and streams” from the Arctic Oceans which is around 2,000 miles distant by the scenic river route.
Given the unlikelihood of this assertion Wikipedia also raises the possibility that the sea level rose by 455 metres so that Lake Baikal could be “linked to the ocean at some point through a large body of water”.
However, this is also an extremely unlikelihood assertion because even if “all the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea” then the sea level would only rise by about 66 metres.
On the upside the CO2 Climate Catastrophe narrative predicts a 216 foot [65.8368 metres] rise in Global Sea Levels if “all the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea”.
The Baikal seal lives only in the waters of Lake Baikal.
It is something of a mystery how Baikal seals came to live there in the first place.
They may have swum up rivers and streams or possibly Lake Baikal was linked to the ocean at some point through a large body of water, such as the West Siberian Glacial Lake or West Siberian Plain, formed in a previous ice age.
The seals are estimated to have inhabited Lake Baikal for some two million years.
Surface elevation 455.5 m (1,494 ft)
Baikal’s age is estimated at 25–30 million years, making it one of the most ancient lakes in geological history.
It is unique among large, high-latitude lakes, as its sediments have not been scoured by overriding continental ice sheets.
The ratchet then tightens up a few more notches when it comes to the Caspian seal which is also related to the Arctic ringed seal.
The Caspian seal (Pusa caspica) is one of the smallest members of the earless seal family and unique in that it is found exclusively in the brackish Caspian Sea.
They are found not only along the shorelines, but also on the many rocky islands and floating blocks of ice that dot the Caspian Sea.
In winter, and cooler parts of the spring and autumn season, these marine mammals populate the Northern Caspian.
As the ice melts in the warmer season, they can be found on the mouths of the Volga and Ural Rivers, as well as the southern latitudes of the Caspian where cooler waters can be found due to greater depth.
Surface elevation −28 m (−92 ft)
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed inland body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world’s largest lake or a full-fledged sea.
It is in an endorheic basin (it has no outflows) located between Europe and Asia.
It has a salinity of approximately 1.2% (12 g/l), about a third of the salinity of most seawater.
Explaining away the Caspian seal is a real problem and Wikipedia resorts to vague claims that they became “isolated in the landlocked Caspian Sea when continental ice sheets melted” and then throw in some even vaguer “tectonic uplift and a fall in sea level” for good measure.
Evidence suggests the seals are descended from Arctic ringed seals that reached the area from the north during an earlier part of the Quaternary period and became isolated in the landlocked Caspian Sea when continental ice sheets melted.
It became landlocked about 5.5 million years ago due to tectonic uplift and a fall in sea level.
The Quaternary Period is the current and most recent of the three periods of the Cenozoic Era in the geologic time scale of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS).
It follows the Neogene Period and spans from 2.588 ± 0.005 million years ago to the present.
The Quaternary Period is divided into two epochs: the Pleistocene (2.588 million years ago to 11.7 thousand years ago) and the Holocene (11.7 thousand years ago to today).
Unsurprisingly, academics who are not graduates of the Etch A Sketch Skool of Geology have concluded the “palaeohydrography that would have enabled the invasions at that time still remains an enigma”.
The endemic seals of Lake Baikal (Phoca sibirica) and of the Caspian Sea (Phoca caspica) inhabit ancient continental basins that have remained isolated from primary marine seal habitats for millions of years.
The species have been united with the Arctic ringed seal, Phoca hispida, into (sub)genus Pusa, but the age and route of invasions to/from the continental basins remain controversial.
A phylogenetic analysis of nine northern phocines based on three mitochondrial genes (Cytb, COI, COII, total 3369 bp) provided no support for the monophyly of the Pusa group.
The three species are involved in an apparent polytomy with the boreal harbour seal, Phoca vitulina, and grey seal, Halichoerus grypus.
From the average estimated interspecies divergence (4.1%), the radiation of this group plausibly took place in the Late Pliocene 2–3 Mya.
This dating does not fit the prevailing hypotheses on the origin of the landlocked taxa in association with Middle Pleistocene glacial events, or of the Caspian seal as a direct descendant of Miocene fossil phocines of the continental Paratethyan basin.
The current phocine diversity more likely results from marine radiations, and the continental seals invaded their basins through Plio-Pleistocene (marine) connections from the north.
The palaeohydrography that would have enabled the invasions at that time still remains an enigma.
PALO, J. U. and VÄINÖLÄ, R. (2006), The enigma of the landlocked Baikal and Caspian seals addressed through phylogeny of phocine mitochondrial sequences. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 88: 61–72. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2006.00607.x
However, the coup de grace is delivered by the academic archaeologists who have discovered that humans observed dolphins, porpoises and whales in the Caspian Sea.
Archeological studies of Gobustan petroglyphs indicate that there once had been dolphins and porpoises, or a certain species of beaked whales and a whaling scene indicates of large baleen whales likely being present in Caspian Sea at least until Quaternary period although the rock art on Kichikdash Mountain assumed to be of a dolphin, might instead represent the famous beluga sturgeon due to its size (430 cm in length), but fossil records suggest certain ancestors of modern dolphins and whales, such as Macrokentriodon morani (bottlenose dolphins) and Balaenoptera sibbaldina (blue whales) were presumably larger than their present descendants.
From the same artworks, auks, like Brunnich’s Guillemot could also have been in the sea as well, and the existences of current endemic, oceanic species and these petroglyphs suggest marine inflow between the current Caspian Sea and the Arctic ocean or North Sea, or the Black Sea.
Gobustan is very rich in archaeological monuments.
The reserve has more than 6,000 rock engravings dating back between 5,000 – 40,000 years.
The petroglyphs and rock engravings are an exceptional testimony to a way of life that has disappeared, graphic representations of activities connected with hunting and fishing at a time when the climate and vegetation of the area were warmer and wetter than today.
Thus an ancient historical narrative begins to emerges of an inflating Water World which was once covered by a network of interconnected inland seas.
These inland seas have since [in the main] drained away into the [recently created] oceans basins leaving behind isolated lakes [many of which have evaporated away] and some isolated populations of seals.
Clearly, the evidence suggests the Etch A Sketch Skool of Geology narrative regarding the last Ice Age [and their grandiose geological time-line covering hundreds of millions of years] needs to be consigned to the realms of pulp fiction.