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New Saimaa ringed seal celebrity charms slow-TV fans

Moona, a plump young Saimaa ringed seal appears to have pushed former seal TV star Pullervo out of the limelight.

WWF Finland’s "norppalive" video stream has a new star on its hands. Moona, a charming and hefty young Saimaa ringed seal has been enchanting viewers with her antics on the seasonal live stream.

"Moona is this young, attractive and fairly good-sized female. She is Pullervo’s pal, they’re from the same clan which includes eight other seals," said nature photographer and activist Juha Taskinen.

Pullervo is a veteran of the organisation’s annual live stream show, having featured since on the NGO’s livecam since 2016, when he debuted with another female, Sire. The seals form clans, which may share items such as the rocks they use for sunbathing.

"Some older seals are like the community elders, saying ‘you don’t go anywhere’. Young male seals in particular go off roaming over long distances and as far as I know Moona has also wandered off," Taskinen noted.

Live stream camera carefully positioned

If you randomly point a camera at any rock in southeast Finland’s Saimaa region, the probability of capturing a seal is quite low. But you can get lucky if you’re familiar with the animals’ habits.

"About 20 years ago I went to eat a snack in the area where the camera is now. I heard two seals having a conversation and I took a photo. They were Siiri and Pullervo," the photographer commented.

"When WWF was selecting a location for the camera, this came to mind immediately," he added.

The rock on which the camera is trained may not seem very special but the local seal population has used it for decades. Moona was also photographed in the area near the location of the norppalive camera back in 2013 and has also been sighted since in 2014, 2016 and last year.

"Moona has clearly grown during the monitoring period. We still haven’t seen signs of reproduction but she is beginning to get close to that age," University of Eastern Finland researcher Meeri Koivuniemi said in a statement on WWF Finland’s website.

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