Found in the northern Atlantic ocean, from Newfoundland across to Norway, the hooded seal (Cystophora cristata) is very much like what you’d expect a seal to be. Big, fat, blubbery, roundish, blobular things that bounce around awkwardly on land and move gracefully through the water. Indeed, these seals can weigh up to 400 kilograms (nearly 900 pounds) and dive to 1 kilometer under water. The hooded seals, however, add one rather peculiar trait to the mix… obviously, their hood!
The male seals have an enlarged nasal cavity, and the skin on their face is rather loose and floppy. They have the ability to inflate this hood to about double the size of a football. The reason being to make their head appear larger and more threatening to other males. “Hey, you wanna mess with me? Just look at the size of my head!”
As a bonus feature, they have a rubbery membrane sac in their nose that they can literally shoot out the nostril and inflate. It’s bright reddish-pink much like bubble gum, and at least the size of their head. Once it’s fully inflated they waggle it around like they just don’t care to produce an odd sound much like those punching balloons you’d have on a rubber band. It’s yet another pompous display that can assert dominance, but also really impress the lady seals.
Man, hooded seals have it easy. I have to get by on my regular old wit and charm. If only I could shoot a balloon out my nose. (sigh)