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Fast and smart - meet Lake Baikal's unique nerpa seal

29 July 2010 Last updated at 08:50 BST

The Baikal seal - or nerpa in Russian - is the world's only exclusively freshwater seal.

The smallest of its species, the nerpa is thought to have lived in Lake Baikal for the past two million years.

Known for its speed, agility and intelligence, the nerpa can live for up to 60 years.

Maria Karpova, from the Listvyanka Nerpinarium, explains why the creatures were of such interest.