Baikal seal

The Baikal seal, Lake Baikal seal or nerpa (Pusa sibirica), is a species of earless seal endemic to Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia. Like the Caspian seal, it is related to the Arctic ringed seal. The Baikal seal is one of the smallest true seals and the only exclusively freshwater pinniped species.[2] A subpopulation of inland harbour seals living in the Hudson's Bay region of Quebec, Canada (lac de loups marins harbour seals), the Saimaa ringed seal (a ringed seal subspecies) and the Ladoga seal (a ringed seal subspecies) are found in fresh water, but these are part of species that also have marine populations.[2]

The most recent population estimates are 80,000 to 100,000 animals, roughly equaling the expected carrying capacity of the lake.[1] At present, the species is not considered threatened, despite hunting (both legal and illegal) and pollution of the lake.[1]

Baikal seal
Baikal seal 200507 hakone japan
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Clade: Pinnipedia
Family: Phocidae
Genus: Pusa
Species:
P. sibirica
Binomial name
Pusa sibirica
Gmelin, 1788
Baikal Seal area
Baikal seal range
Synonyms

Phoca sibirica

Description

The Baikal seal is one of the smallest true seals. Adults typically grow to 1.1–1.4 m (3 ft 7 in–4 ft 7 in) in length[1] with a body mass from 63 to 70 kg (139 to 154 lb).[3] The maximum reported size is 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in) in length and 130 kg (290 lb) in weight.[4] There are significant annual variations in the weight, with lowest weight in the spring and highest weight, about 38–42% more, in the fall.[5] The animals show very little sexual dimorphism; males are only slightly larger than females.[3] They have a uniform, steely-grey coat on their backs and fur with a yellowish tinge on their abdomens. As the coat weathers, it becomes brownish.[5] When born, the pups weigh 3–3.5 kg (6.6–7.7 lb) and are about 70 cm (2 ft 4 in) long.[1] They have coats of white, silky, natal fur. This fur is quickly shed and exchanged for a darker coat, much like that of adults. Rarely, Baikal seals can be found with spotted coats.[3]

Baikal-seal 4747-pho
A young seal

Distribution

The Baikal seal lives only in the waters of Lake Baikal.[6] It is something of a mystery how Baikal seals came to live there in the first place. They may have swum up rivers and streams or possibly Lake Baikal was linked to the ocean at some point through a large body of water, such as the West Siberian Glacial Lake or West Siberian Plain, formed in a previous ice age. The seals are estimated to have inhabited Lake Baikal for some two million years.[7]

The areas of the lake in which the Baikal seals reside change depending on the season, as well as other environmental factors. They are solitary animals for the majority of the year, sometimes living kilometers away from other Baikal seals. In general, a higher concentration of Baikal seals is found in the northern parts of the lake, because the longer winter keeps the ice frozen longer, which is preferable for pupping.[5] However, in recent years, migrations to the southern half of the lake have occurred, possibly to evade hunters.[3] In winter, when the lake is frozen over, seals maintain a few breathing holes over a given area and tend to remain nearby, not interfering with the food supplies of nearby seals. When the ice begins to melt, Baikal seals tend to keep to the shoreline.

Abundance and trends

Nerpa festival
A Baikal seal costume at the Nerpa Festival in Irkutsk, Baikal region, Russia

Since 2008, the Baikal seal has been listed as a Least Concern species on the IUCN Red List.[1] This means that they are not currently threatened or endangered. In 1994, the Russian government estimated that they numbered 104,000. In 2000, Greenpeace performed its own count and found an estimated 55,000 to 65,000 seals.[6] The most recent estimates are 80,000-100,000 animals, roughly equaling the carrying capacity of the lake.[1]

In the last century, the kill quota for hunting Baikal seals was raised several times, most notably after the fur industry boomed in the late 1970s and when official counts began indicating more Baikal seals were present than previously known.[5] The quota in 1999, 6,000, was lowered in 2000 to 3,500, which was still nearly 5% of the population if the Greenpeace count is correct.[3] In 2013–2014, the hunting quota was set at 2,500.[1] In addition, new techniques, such as netting breathing holes and seal dens to catch pups, have been introduced. In 2001, a prime seal pelt would bring 1,000 rubles at market.[6] In 2004–2006, about 2,000 seals were killed per year according to official Russian statistics, but in the same period another 1,500–4,000 are thought to have died annually due to drowning in fishing gear, poaching, and the like.[1] In 2012–2013, it was estimated that 2,300–2,800 were hunted per year (combined legal hunting and poaching).[1] Some groups have pressured for higher hunting quotas.[1]

Another problem at Lake Baikal is the introduction of pollutants into the ecosystem. Pesticides such as DDT and hexachlorocyclohexane, as well as industrial waste, mainly from the Baikalisk pulp and paper plant, are thought to have enhanced the effect of several disease epidemics among Baikal seal populations. The chemicals are speculated to concentrate up the food chain and weaken the Baikal seal's immune system, making them susceptible to diseases such as canine distemper and the plague, which was the cause of a serious Baikal seal epidemic that resulted in the deaths of 5,000–6,500 animals in 1987-1988.[1][3] Small numbers died as recently as 2000, but the reason for their deaths is unclear.[3] Canine distemper is still present in the Baikal seal population, but has not caused mass deaths since the earlier outbreaks.[1] In general, levels of DDT and non-ortho PCB have declined in the lake from the 1990s, levels of mono-ortho PCB has showed no change, and perfluorochemical increased.[1] Industrialization of the area near Lake Baikal is increasing and future monitoring is necessary. At present, Baikal seals show lower levels of contaminants than seals of Europe and North America, but higher than Arctic seals.[1]

The most serious future threat to the survival of the seal may be global warming, which has the potential to seriously affect a closed cold-water ecosystem such as that of Lake Baikal.[1]

The only known natural predator of adult Baikal seals is the brown bear, but this is not believed to occur frequently.[1] The seal pups are typically hidden in a den, but can fall prey to smaller land predators such as the red fox, the sable and the white-tailed eagle.[4]

Reproduction

Female Baikal seals reach sexual maturity at 3–6 years of age, whereas males achieve it around 4–7 years.[3] The males and females are not strongly sexually dimorphic. Baikal seals mate in the water towards the end of the pupping season. With a combination of delayed implantation and a nine-month gestation period, the Baikal seals' overall pregnancy is around 11 months. Pregnant females are the only Baikal seals to haul out during the winter. The males tend to stay in the water, under the ice, all winter. Females usually give birth to one pup, but they are one of only two species of true seals with the ability to give birth to twins.[5] Very rarely, triplets or quadruplets have been recorded.[4] The twins often stick together for some time after being weaned. The females, after giving birth to their pups on the ice in late winter, become immediately impregnated again, and often are lactating while pregnant.

Baikal seals are slightly polygamous and slightly territorial, although not particularly defensive of their territory. Males mate with around three females if given the chance. They then mark the female's den with a strong, musky odor, which can be smelled by another male if he approaches. The female raises the pups on her own; she digs them a fairly large den under the ice, up to 5 m (16 ft) in length, and more than 2 m (6 ft) wide. Pups as young as two days old then further expand this den by digging a maze of tunnels around the den. Since the pup avoids breaking the surface with these tunnels, this activity is thought to be mainly for exercise, to keep warm until they have built up an insulating layer of blubber.

Baikal seal pups are weaned after 2–2.5 months, occasionally up to 3.5 months.[1] During this time, the pups can increase their birth weight five-fold. After the pups are weaned, the mother introduces them to solid food, bringing amphipods, fish, and other food into the den.

In spring, when the ice melts and the dens usually collapse, the pup is left to fend for itself. Growth continues until they are 20 to 25 years old.

Every year in the late winter and spring, both sexes haul themselves out and begin to moult their coat from the previous year, which is replaced with new fur. While moulting, they refrain from eating and enter a lethargic state, during which time they often die of overheating, males especially, from lying on the ice too long in the sun.[5] During the spring and summer, groups as large as 500 can form on the ice floes and shores of Lake Baikal. Baikal seals can live to over 50 years old, exceptionally old for a seal,[5] although the females are presumed to be fertile only until they are around 30.[8]

Foraging

Their main food source is the golomyanka, a cottoid oilfish found only in Lake Baikal. Baikal seals eat more than half of the annual produced biomass of golomyanka, some 64,000 tons.[5] In the winter and spring, it is estimated that more than 90% of its food consists of golomyankas.[4][9] The remaining food sources for this seal are various other fish species, especially Cottocomephorus (about 7% of the diet during the winter and spring) and Kessler's sculpin (about 0.3% of the diet in the winter and spring), but it may also take some invertebrates such as Epischura baikalensis, gammarids and molluscs.[4] During the autumn the Baikal seal eats 2–3 times less golomyankas than in the winter and spring, but significantly more Cottocomephorus, Kessler's sculpins and stone sculpins.[4] A total of 29 fish species have been recorded in the diet.[1] They feed mainly during twillight and at night, when golomyankas occur in depths as shallow as 10–25 m (33–82 ft).[1][4] During the day, golomyankas are typically found deeper than 100 m (330 ft).[1] Baikal seals can dive up to depths of 400 m (1,300 ft)[4] and more than 40 minutes.[1] Most dives last less than 10 minutes and generally only 2–4 minutes.[1] Baikal seals have two litres more blood than any other seal of their size and can stay underwater for up to 70 minutes if they are frightened or need to escape danger.

The Baikal seal has been blamed for drops in omul numbers, but this is not the case. It is estimated that omul only comprises about 0.1% of its diet.[4] The omul's main competitor is the golomyanka and by eating tons of these fish a year, Baikal seals cut down on the omul's competition for resources.[5]

Baikal seals have one unusual foraging habit. In early autumn, before the entire lake freezes over, they migrate to bays and coves and hunt Kessler's sculpin, a fish that lives in silty areas and, as a result, usually contains grit and silt in its digestive system. This grit scours the seals' gastrointestinal tracts and expels parasites.[5]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Burkanov, V. (2016). "Pusa sibirica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b Randall R. Reeves, Brent S. Stewart, Phillip J. clapham, James A. Powell, "National Audubon Society Guide to the Marine Mammals of the World", Alfred A. Knopf publishing, New York, 2002
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Baikal Seal (Phoca Sibirica)". Seal Conservation Society. Archived from the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Baikal seal". baikal.ru. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Pastukhov Vladimir, D. "The Face of Baikal - Nerpa". Baikal Web World. Archived from the original on 25 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
  6. ^ a b c Schofield, James (27 July 2001). "Lake Baikal's Vanishing Nerpa Seal". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
  7. ^ Jukka U. Palo, Risto Vainola (2006) The enigma of the landlocked Baikal and Caspian seals addressed through phylogeny of phocine mitochondrial sequences Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 88, 61-72 doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2006.00607.x
  8. ^ Harrold, A. 2002. “Phoca Sibirica” (on-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed August 27, 2007.
  9. ^ "Mysterious Fish of Lake Baikal". Science First Hand. 30 September 2004. Retrieved 1 June 2017.

External links

Aquatic mammal

Aquatic and semiaquatic mammals are a diverse group of mammals that dwell partly or entirely in bodies of water. They include the various marine mammals who dwell in oceans, as well as various freshwater species, such as the European otter. They are not a taxon and are not unified by any distinct biological grouping, but rather their dependence on and integral relation to aquatic ecosystems. The level of dependence on aquatic life varies greatly among species. Among freshwater taxa, the Amazonian manatee and river dolphins are completely aquatic and fully dependent on aquatic ecosystems. Semiaquatic freshwater taxa include the Baikal seal, which feeds underwater but rests, molts, and breeds on land; and the capybara and hippopotamus which are able to venture in and out of water in search of food.

Mammal adaptation to an aquatic lifestyle vary considerably between species. River dolphins and manatees are both fully aquatic and therefore are completely tethered to a life in the water. Seals are semiaquatic; they spend the majority of their time in the water, but need to return to land for important activities such as mating, breeding and molting. In contrast, many other aquatic mammals, such as hippopotamus, capybara, and water shrews, are much less adapted to aquatic living. Likewise, their diet ranges considerably as well, anywhere from aquatic plants and leaves to small fish and crustaceans. They play major roles in maintaining aquatic ecosystems, beavers especially.

Aquatic mammals were the target for commercial industry, leading to a sharp decline in all populations of exploited species, such as beavers. Their pelts, suited for conserving heat, were taken during the fur trade and made into coats and hats. Other aquatic mammals, such as the Indian rhinoceros, were targets for sport hunting and had a sharp population decline in the 1900s. After it was made illegal, many aquatic mammals became subject to poaching. Other than hunting, aquatic mammals can be killed as bycatch from fisheries, where they become entangled in fixed netting and drown or starve. Increased river traffic, most notably in the Yangtze river, causes collisions between fast ocean vessels and aquatic mammals, and damming of rivers may land migratory aquatic mammals in unsuitable areas or destroy habitat upstream. The industrialization of rivers led to the extinction of the Chinese river dolphin, with the last confirmed sighting in 2004.

Comephorus

Comephorus, known as the golomyankas or Baikal oilfish, are a genus comprising two species of peculiar, sculpin fishes endemic to Lake Baikal in Russia. Comephorus is the only genus in the family Comephoridae. Golomyankas are pelagic fishes which make the main food source of the Baikal seal.

Cottocomephoridae

Cottocomephoridae, or the bighead sculpins or Baikal sculpins, are a family of scorpaeniform fishes mostly endemic to Russia (one species ranges into Mongolia) where they are mostly found in Lake Baikal and surrounding lakes and rivers.The Catalog of Fishes does not recognize Cottocomephoridae as a separate family, but includes its members in the Cottidae.Members of Cottocomephoridae form a major part of the diet of the Baikal seal, especially in the autumn.

Cottocomephorus

Cottocomephorus is a genus of Baikal sculpins endemic to Lake Baikal and its surrounding tributaries in Russia. They have relatively large pectoral fins and reach up to 22 cm (8.7 inches) in total length. They are an important food for the Baikal seal, during the winter second only to the golomyankas.

Earless seal

The earless seals, phocids or true seals are one of the three main groups of mammals within the seal lineage, Pinnipedia. All true seals are members of the family Phocidae . They are sometimes called crawling seals to distinguish them from the fur seals and sea lions of the family Otariidae. Seals live in the oceans of both hemispheres and, with the exception of the more tropical monk seals, are mostly confined to polar, subpolar, and temperate climates. The Baikal seal is the only species of exclusively freshwater seal.

Freshwater seal

The freshwater seals are the species of seals which live exclusively in freshwater bodies.

The only true freshwater seal species is the Baikal seal.

The others are the subspecies or colonies of regular saltwater seals. These include the subspecies of ringed seal: the Ladoga seal and the Saimaa ringed seal.

Common seals are known to enter estuaries and freshwater rivers in pursuit of their prey. Colonies of common seals live in some lakes, such as seals of Iliamna Lake, Alaska, trapped there a long time ago. There is also a subspecies called the Ungava seal (Phoca vitulina mellonae) that comprises less than 300 individuals landlocked in the fresh water of Lacs des Loups Marins, Petit Lac de Loups Marins, and Lac Bourdel in northern Quebec.

Hauling-out

Hauling-out is a behaviour associated with pinnipeds (true seals, sea lions, fur seals and walruses) temporarily leaving the water. Hauling-out typically occurs between periods of foraging activity. Rather than remain in the water, pinnipeds haul-out onto land or sea-ice for reasons such as reproduction and rest. Hauling-out is necessary in seals for mating (with the exception of the Baikal seal) and giving birth (although a distinction is generally made between reproductive aggregations, termed "rookeries", and non-reproductive aggregations, termed "haul-outs"). Other benefits of hauling-out may include predator avoidance, thermoregulation, social activity, parasite reduction and rest.There is much variation in haul-out patterns among different seal species. Haul-out sites may be segregated by age and sex within the same species. Many species of pinniped have only a few localized rookeries where they breed, but periodically occupy hundreds of haul-out sites throughout the range. For example, the Australian fur seals breed on only nine islands in Bass Strait but also occupy up to 50 haul-out sites in south-east Australian waters, and Steller sea lions have around 50 rookeries throughout their range, but several hundred haul-out sites.

Hauling-out behaviour provides numerous benefits to pinnipeds besides reproduction. This behaviour has been shown to be used for activities such as thermoregulation, predator avoidance, moulting, nursing, and resting. Haul-out frequency, duration, and site location (ie. sea-ice, floating-ice, and terrestrial) are all influenced by physical constraints (ie. air temperature, wind speed, and time of day) and biological constraints (ie. moulting, age, and sex). Variations in hauling-out behaviour exist among pinnipeds for reasons such as geographical location.

Kessler's sculpin

Kessler's sculpin (Leocottus kesslerii) is a species of Baikal sculpin, a freshwater fish native to Russia and Mongolia where it occurs in Lake Baikal and surrounding lakes as well as the Selenga, Angara and Bain Gol rivers. It is the only member of its genus. In Lake Baikal it occurs on sandy, rocky-sandy or sandy-muddy bottoms, ranging from relatively shallow water to depths of 70 m (230 ft). In rivers they mainly occur in slow-flowing channels and floodplains.This species grows to a total length of 14 cm (5.5 in), but typically is 9–11 cm (3.5–4.3 in). Adults are crepuscular, and feed on gammarids, chironomids, and young fish. Spawning takes place in May to June at 3–5 m (9.8–16.4 ft) depths. Eggs are deposited under stones, and the male stays guarding the eggs. The pelagic larvae feed on plankton.The Kessler's sculpin is sometimes caught by commercial fishers, and it is eaten by the Baikal seal, comprising about 0.3% of its diet in the winter and spring, and significantly more in the autumn.

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal (; Russian: о́зеро Байка́л, tr. Ozero Baykal, IPA: [ˈozʲɪrə bɐjˈkaɫ]; Buryat: Байгал нуур, Baigal nuur; Mongolian: Байгал нуур, Baigal nuur, etymologically meaning, in Mongolian, "the Nature Lake") is a rift lake in Russia, located in southern Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and the Buryat Republic to the southeast.

Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, containing 22–23% of the world's fresh surface water. With 23,615.39 km3 (5,670 cu mi) of fresh water, it contains more water than the North American Great Lakes combined. With a maximum depth of 1,642 m (5,387 ft), Baikal is the world's deepest lake. It is considered among the world's clearest lakes and is considered the world's oldest lake – at 25–30 million years. It is the seventh-largest lake in the world by surface area.

Like Lake Tanganyika, Lake Baikal was formed as an ancient rift valley, having the typical long, crescent shape with a surface area of 31,722 km2 (12,248 sq mi). Baikal is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of which exist nowhere else in the world. The lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It is also home to Buryat tribes who reside on the eastern side of Lake Baikal, raising goats, camels, cattle, sheep, and horses, where the mean temperature varies from a winter minimum of −19 °C (−2 °F) to a summer maximum of 14 °C (57 °F).The region to the east of Lake Baikal is referred to as Transbaikalia, and the loosely defined region around the lake is sometimes known as simply Baikalia.

Lutrogale

Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.

Nerpa

Nerpa may refer to:

Baikal seal (Pusa sibirica), a seal native to Lake Baikal, Siberia

Nerpa, Nepal

Russian submarine Nerpa (K-152), an Akula II class submarine

Phoca

Phoca is a genus of the earless seals, within the family Phocidae. It now contains just two species, the common seal (or harbour seal) and the spotted seal (or largha seal). Several species formerly listed under this genus have been split into the genera Pusa, Pagophilus, and Histriophoca. Until recently, Phoca largha has been considered a subspecies of Phoca vitulina but now is considered its own species. For this reason, the fossil history of the genus is unclear, and it has formerly been used as wastebasket taxon for a number of fossils of uncertain affinity.

Pinniped

Pinnipeds, commonly known as seals, are a widely distributed and diverse clade of carnivorous, fin-footed, semiaquatic marine mammals. They comprise the extant families Odobenidae (whose only living member is the walrus), Otariidae (the eared seals: sea lions and fur seals), and Phocidae (the earless seals, or true seals). There are 33 extant species of pinnipeds, and more than 50 extinct species have been described from fossils. While seals were historically thought to have descended from two ancestral lines, molecular evidence supports them as a monophyletic lineage (descended from one ancestral line). Pinnipeds belong to the order Carnivora and their closest living relatives are believed to be bears and the superfamily of musteloids (weasels, raccoons, skunks, and red pandas), having diverged about 50 million years ago.

Seals range in size from the 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and 45 kg (99 lb) Baikal seal to the 5 m (16 ft) and 3,200 kg (7,100 lb) southern elephant seal, which is also the largest member of the order Carnivora. Several species exhibit sexual dimorphism. They have streamlined bodies and four limbs that are modified into flippers. Though not as fast in the water as dolphins, seals are more flexible and agile. Otariids use their front limbs primarily to propel themselves through the water, while phocids and walruses use their hind limbs. Otariids and walruses have hind limbs that can be pulled under the body and used as legs on land. By comparison, terrestrial locomotion by phocids is more cumbersome. Otariids have visible external ears, while phocids and walruses lack these. Pinnipeds have well-developed senses—their eyesight and hearing are adapted for both air and water, and they have an advanced tactile system in their whiskers or vibrissae. Some species are well adapted for diving to great depths. They have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin to keep warm in the cold water, and, other than the walrus, all species are covered in fur.

Although pinnipeds are widespread, most species prefer the colder waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. They spend most of their lives in the water, but come ashore to mate, give birth, molt or escape from predators, such as sharks and killer whales. They feed largely on fish and marine invertebrates; but a few, like the leopard seal, feed on large vertebrates, such as penguins and other seals. Walruses are specialized for feeding on bottom-dwelling mollusks. Male pinnipeds typically mate with more than one female (polygyny), although the degree of polygyny varies with the species. The males of land-breeding species tend to mate with a greater number of females than those of ice breeding species. Male pinniped strategies for reproductive success vary between defending females, defending territories that attract females and performing ritual displays or lek mating. Pups are typically born in the spring and summer months and females bear almost all the responsibility for raising them. Mothers of some species fast and nurse their young for a relatively short period of time while others take foraging trips at sea between nursing bouts. Walruses are known to nurse their young while at sea. Seals produce a number of vocalizations, notably the barks of California sea lions, the gong-like calls of walruses and the complex songs of Weddell seals.

The meat, blubber and fur coats of pinnipeds have traditionally been used by indigenous peoples of the Arctic. Seals have been depicted in various cultures worldwide. They are commonly kept in captivity and are even sometimes trained to perform tricks and tasks. Once relentlessly hunted by commercial industries for their products, seals and walruses are now protected by international law. The Japanese sea lion and the Caribbean monk seal have become extinct in the past century, while the Mediterranean monk seal and Hawaiian monk seal are ranked endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Besides hunting, pinnipeds also face threats from accidental trapping, marine pollution, and conflicts with local people.

Pribaikalsky National Park

Pribaikalsky National Park (also spelled Pribaykalski, Russian: Прибайкальский национальный парк) covers the southwest coast of Lake Baikal in southeastern Siberia. The coastal strip includes some mountain ridges to the west as well as offshore islands such as Olkhon Island to the east. It is about 50 km southeast of the city of Irkutsk, Irkutsk Oblast. The park is managed with three other nature reserves, and is a major component of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Lake Baikal". The Angara River, which is the outflow of Lake Baikal west into the Yenisei River basin, runs through the park. The park has very high levels of biodiversity and endemic species.

Pusa

Pusa is a genus of the earless seals, within the family Phocidae. The three species of this genus were split from the genus Phoca, and some sources still give Phoca as an acceptable synonym for Pusa.

The three species in this genus are found in Arctic and subarctic regions, as well as around the Caspian Sea. This includes these countries and regions: Russia, Scandinavia, Britain, Greenland, Canada, the United States, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Japan. Due to changing local environmental conditions, the ringed seals found in the Canadian region has varied patterns of growth. The northern Canadian ringed seals grow slowly to a larger size, while the southern seals grow quickly to a smaller size.

Only the Caspian seal is endangered.

Red sculpin

Procottus jeittelesii, the red sculpin or red Baikal sculpin, is a species of deepwater sculpin that is endemic to Lake Baikal in Russia. It is a freshwater fish that dwells under stones or in holes in the mud at a depth range of 0 to 800 m (0 to 2,625 ft). It is often found at around 100 m (330 ft), and is most abundant during the autumn and winter. From the late winter to the spring it breeds at depths of 5 to 30 m (16 to 98 ft). It can reach a maximum length of 18 cm (7.1 in), but typically is 10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in). It has a red spotted or banded pattern on a light background. The red sculpin resembles two of its close relatives, the smaller P. gurwici and the larger P. major.The red sculpin's diet consists of zoobenthos, especially amphipods but also oligochaetes. Despite its small size, it is caught and eaten by locals, and also eaten by the Baikal seal and other fish.

Ringed seal

The ringed seal (Pusa hispida or Phoca hispida), also known as the jar seal, as netsik or nattiq by the Inuit and as Ньиэрпэ by the Yakut, is an earless seal (family: Phocidae) inhabiting the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. The ringed seal is a relatively small seal, rarely greater than 1.5 m in length, with a distinctive patterning of dark spots surrounded by light grey rings, hence its common name. It is the most abundant and wide-ranging ice seal in the Northern Hemisphere: ranging throughout the Arctic Ocean, into the Bering Sea and Okhotsk Sea as far south as the northern coast of Japan in the Pacific, and throughout the North Atlantic coasts of Greenland and Scandinavia as far south as Newfoundland, and include two freshwater subspecies in northern Europe. Ringed seals are one of the primary prey of polar bears and killer whales, and have long been a component of the diet of indigenous people of the Arctic.

Saimaa ringed seal

The Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis, Finnish: Saimaannorppa) is a subspecies of ringed seal (Pusa hispida). They are among the most endangered seals in the world, having a total population of only about 390 individuals. The only existing population of these seals is found in Lake Saimaa, Finland (hence the name). They have lived in complete isolation from other ringed seal species for around 9,500 years and have diverged into a morphologically and ecologically different subspecies of ringed seal. The population is descended from ringed seals that were separated from the rest when the land rose after the last ice age. This seal, along with the Ladoga seal and the Baikal seal, is one of the few living freshwater seals.

Stone sculpin

The stone sculpin (Paracottus knerii) is a species of cottoid fish endemic to Russia, where it is found in Lake Baikal and surrounding tributaries as well as the Gramninskie Lakes, Lake Verkhnaya Agata and the Enisei River and various lakes in Tuva. This species is the only recognized member of its genus.It is often eaten by the Baikal seal, especially in the autumn.

Extant Carnivora species

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