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Ringed Seal


Scientific Name:
Phoca hispida
Length:
1.3 m (4.3 ft)
Weight:
32 - 140 kg (70 - 308 lbs)
Status:
good to go
Prey:
Mysids, shrimp, arctic cod, herring, smelt, whitefish, sculpin, perch and crustaceans

Physical characteristics

Has a short and stubby body with a small, rounded head. Small grey rings are found all around the body. It is the smallest of all seals.

Behavioral characterization

They spend most of their life in water except during breeding, resting and molting. They sometimes bury themselves within holes in the ice using the claws on their flippers.

Distribution

Artic Ocean, Baltic Sea, Canada, Alaska, Siberia

Population size

Unknown; the estimated population size for the Alaska stock is 249,000.

Predators

Polar bears, killer whales and Greenland sharks; Arctic foxes and glaucous gulls prey on the pups.

Migration/Dispersal patterns

The details are unknown; the Alaskan population is believed to migrate northward in late spring and summer.

Social system/Group size

Usually solitary.

Major threats

Entanglement in fishing gear and hunting. Global climate change may lead to loss of ice packs upon which it gives birth and avoids predators.

Research efforts

Ice Seal Biological Monitoring; Satellite telemetry (Hooper Bay, Kotzebue); Harvest monitoring

Fun fact

A ringed seal pup is also known as a "silver jar".