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"Norppalive" is back

Last summer a WWF live feed of a Saimaa Ringed Seal sunning itself had more than two million views in a single month. The feed was restarted on Wednesday as part of a project intended to spread awareness of the life and threats faced by these rare, endangered, freshwater animals.

Norppa kivellä.
Image: Juha Taskinen

"Season 2" of Norppalive (norppa being Finnish for Saimaa Ringed Seal) was launched on Wednesday and received 100,000 views the first day. Some fans encountered technical problems accessing the feed, especially those using android devices. Some PC users also reported that they had problems getting the video picture.

Since being relaunched, the service has crashed several times because of high demand. WWF told Yle that it is working to resolve technical issues with the stream.

Interest in Norppalive was not dampened by technical challenges and not even by the fact that the star didn't make an appearance for the first two days.

WWF spokesman Joonas Fritze told Yle late Thursday that there is a good reason for the no-show. The camera, at an undisclosed location on Lake Saimaa, is close to coves that still have ice cover. These seals prefer to spend time on the ice, rather than on a rock.

"But there are seals there. I was with the group installing the camera and we saw several in the vicinity," says Fritze.

More than entertainment

The latest estimate of the Saimaa Ringed Seal population is around 360 individuals. They were nearly hunted to extinction in the 20th century. A protected species since 1955, they were still the victims of poaching well into the 1980s. Today, climate change poses a threat to the species.

According to WWF, the goal of the live feed project is to spread awareness of the life and threats of the Saimaa ringed seal.

Another goal is to increase social approval of protecting the seals and to encourage people to take part in protective action.

One hope is to make the seals more familiar to people so that they might be more willing to voluntarily give up net fishing on Lake Saimaa. Fishing nets are one of the major threats to the seals. Pups, in particular, can become entangled in fishing nets and drown.

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