Kaido Haagen and Jarek Jõepera to exhibit photos of seals 09.02

Starting on Thursday, 5 February, the photo exhibition “Two Men, Two Seals” – dedicated to the ringed seal year that has ended – will be open in the atrium of RMK’s office in Tallinn.

The exhibition was put together at the initiative of the magazine Loodusesõber, and consists of photos taken by photographers and friends Kaido Haagen and Jarek Jõepera, many of which were taken on trips with seal researchers. Estonia’s waters are inhabited by ringed seals and grey seals. The exhibition helps to explain the differences between the animals, which appear similar at first glance: the photos show the rings of the ringed seal as well as its favourite spots – lounging rocks – and the spotted coat of the grey seal and its favourite places on the seashore.

The ringed seal (Pusa hispida) is an alien from Arctic waters, who has been living on our seashores for as long as we have had seashores here. The ringed seal is not faring as well as its larger relative, the grey seal, because of the increasing level of human impact on the Baltic Sea, which is exerting greater pressure on the ringed seal than on its more mobile relative. In addition, the ringed seal needs constant ice conditions for giving birth to pups. It is estimated that about 1,000 ringed seals are living in Estonian waters. The ringed seal belongs to protected species category II.

The grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) is faring better than the ringed seal; it is listed in species category III. The mobility of the grey seal in the waters of the Baltic Sea gives it a much better chance of survival, and in warm winters it is not as vulnerable as the ringed seal. As a result, the grey seal’s numbers are also slowly increasing. According to the latest data, Estonian waters are inhabited by 5,300 grey seals.

In order not to disturb the protected animals, the ringed seal habitats may only be visited on the basis of special permits, which are also required for photographing. Kaido Haagen and Jarek Jõepera have managed to get close to the ringed seals with the help of seal researchers.

Kaido Haagen is one of the best underwater wildlife photographers in Estonia. Kaido has been awarded several prizes, including the Grand Prix of the Baltic Nature Photo Contest in 2011.

Jarek Jõepera is a passionate nature photographer who has won several higher level Nature Year Photo contest awards, including the Grand Prix in 2009.

The exhibition was put together by the magazine Loodusesõber, with support from the Environmental Investments Centre and RMK. The exhibition will be open until the end of March, from Monday to Friday between 9-18, in the atrium of RMK’s office in Tallinn (Toompuiestee 24). The exhibition is free to visitors.