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.
The ringed seal is the smallest and most common seal in the Arctic, with a small head, short cat-like snout, and a plump body. Its coat is dark with silver rings on the back and sides with a silver belly, from which this seal gets its vernacular name. Depending on subspecies and condition, adult size can range from 100 to 175 cm (39.5 to 69 in) and weigh from 32 to 140 kg (71 to 309 lb). The seal averages about 5 ft (1.5 m) long with a weight of about 50–70 kg (110–150 lb). This species is usually considered the smallest species in the true seal family, although several related species, especially the Baikal seal, may approach similarly diminutive dimensions. Their small front flippers have claws more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick that are used to maintain breathing holes through 6.5 ft (2.0 m) thick ice.
The taxonomy of ringed seal has been much debated and revised in the literature. Due to its wide range, as many as ten subspecies have been described. Currently, five distinct subspecies are recognized: P. h. hispida in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea, P. h. ochotensis in the Sea of Okhotsk, P. h. saimensis in Lake Saimaa in Finland, P. h. ladogensis in nearby Lake Ladoga in Russia and P.h. botnica in the Gulf of Bothnia. The ringed seal is most closely related to the Caspian seal (P. caspica) and Baikal seal (P. sibirica), all of which share similar small sizes, features of skull morphology and affinity for ice.
The closest phylogenetic relatives to the ringed seal are the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) and the species in the genus Phoca (harbor seal and largha seal), to which the ringed seals were formerly attributed. Together with the remaining northern latitude ice seals (ribbon seal, bearded seal, harp seal and hooded seal), these seals constitute the subfamily Phocinae.
Ringed seals occur throughout the Arctic Ocean. They can be found in the Baltic Sea, the Bering Sea and the Hudson Bay. They prefer to rest on ice floe and will move farther north for denser ice. Two subspecies can be found in freshwater.
Ringed seals have a circumpolar distribution from approximately 35°N to the North Pole, occurring in all seas of the Arctic Ocean. In the North Pacific, they are found in the southern Bering Sea and range as far south as the seas of Okhotsk and Japan. Throughout their range, ringed seals have an affinity for ice-covered waters and are well adapted to occupying seasonal and permanent ice. They tend to prefer large floes (i.e., > 48 m in diameter) and are often found in the interior ice pack where the sea ice coverage is greater than 90%. They remain in contact with ice most of the year and pup on the ice in late winter-early spring.
Distribution in Alaska: Ringed seals are found throughout the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Bering Seas, as far south as Bristol Bay in years of extensive ice coverage. During late April through June, ringed seals are distributed throughout their range from the southern ice edge northward. Preliminary results from recent surveys conducted in the Chukchi Sea in May–June 1999 and 2000 indicate that ringed seal density is higher in nearshore fast and pack ice, and lower in offshore pack ice. Results of surveys conducted by Frost and Lowry (1999) indicate that, in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea, the density of ringed seals in May–June is higher to the east than to the west of Flaxman Island. The overall winter distribution is probably similar, and it is believed there is a net movement of seals northward with the ice edge in late spring and summer. Thus, ringed seals occupying the Bering and southern Chukchi seas in winter apparently are migratory, but details of their movements are unknown.
Ringed seals reside in arctic waters and are commonly associated with ice floes and pack ice. The ringed seal maintains a breathing hole in the ice thus allowing it to use ice habitat that other seals cannot.
Females reach sexual maturity at 4 years while males do not reach maturity until 7 years old. During the spring breeding season, females construct lairs within the thick ice and give birth in these structures. Females give birth to a single pup on ice floes or shorefast ice in March or April after a 9-month gestation period. Pups are weaned after one month and build up a thick layer of blubber.
Females usually begin mating in late April. Males will roam the ice for a mate. When found, the male and female may spend several days together before mating. Then the male looks for another mate.
Ringed seals eat a wide variety of small prey that consists of 72 species of fish and invertebrates. Feeding is usually a solitary behavior and their prey of choice includes mysids, shrimp, arctic cod, and herring. While feeding, ringed seals dive to depths of 35 to 150 ft (11 to 46 m). In the summer ringed seals feed along edge of the sea-ice for polar cod. In shallow water they feed on smaller cod. Ringed seals may also eat herring, smelt, whitefish, sculpin, perch, and crustaceans.
Ringed seal are an important food item in particular for polar bears. During the pupping season, Arctic fox and glaucous gulls take ringed seal pups born outside lairs while killer whales, Greenland sharks and occasionally Atlantic walruses prey upon them in the water.
Ringed seals have long been an important component of the diet of Arctic indigenous peoples throughout their range, and continue to be harvested annually by many communities. Early Paleoeskimo sites in Arctic Canada revealed signs of harvested ringed seals dating from c. 4000–3500 BP, likely captured in frozen cracks and leads in the ice, with a selection for juveniles and young adults. However, in 2012 the Government of Nunavut warned pregnant women to avoid eating the liver due to elevated levels of mercury.
Bycatch in fishing gear, such as commercial trawls, is also another threat to ringed seals. Climate change is potentially the most serious threat to ringed seal populations since much of their habitat is dependent upon pack ice. Birthing lairs are often destroyed before the seal pup is able to forage on its own leading to poor body condition.
The estimated population size for the Alaska stock of ringed seals is 249,000 animals. Currently, the population trend for this stock is unknown. Ringed seals are listed as a species of "least concern" by the IUCN, and are considered not “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. Reliable estimates of the minimum population, potential biological removal, and human-caused mortality and serious injury are currently not available. Because the potential biological removal for ringed seals is unknown, the level of annual U.S. commercial fishery-related mortality that can be considered insignificant and approaching zero mortality and serious injury rate is unknown. No information is available on the status of ringed seals. Due to a very low level of interactions between U.S. commercial fisheries and ringed seals, the Alaska stock of ringed seals is not considered a strategic stock.
On March 28, 2008, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service initiated a status review under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to determine if listing this ice seal species under the ESA is warranted.
The populations living in different areas have evolved to separate subspecies, which are currently recognized as:
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. 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.The most recent population estimates are 80,000 to 100,000 animals, roughly equaling the expected carrying capacity of the lake. At present, the species is not considered threatened, despite hunting (both legal and illegal) and pollution of the lake.Barrow Strait
Barrow Strait is a shipping waterway in Northern Canada's territory of Nunavut. Forming part of the Parry Channel, the strait separates several large islands including Cornwallis Island and Devon Island to the north, from Prince of Wales Island, Somerset Island, and Prince Leopold Island to the south.
The first 30 mi (48 km) of its eastern section has no islands, commonly does not freeze until the end of November, nor consolidate until the end of December. Garrett Island, Lowther Island, Young Island, Hamilton Island, and Russell Island lay south of Bathurst Island. Browne Island, Somerville Island, and Griffith Island lay southwest of Cornwallis Island. Beechy Island lays off of Devon Island.
From its eastern junction with Lancaster Sound to its western junction with Viscount Melville Sound, the strait measures 170 mi (270 km) long. Its eastern mouth, between Prince Leopold Island, and Cape Hurd on Devon Island, is 28 mi (45 km) wide. Its western mouth, at Cape Cockburn, southwestern Bathurst Island, is 66 mi (106 km) wide.Habitat for Arctic fox, birds, polar bear, ringed seal, and whales is located along the ice edge, near Leopold Island, while consolidated ice in the strait's central and western sections provides a bridge for caribou crossing.A strategic waterway from deepwater vessels navigating Arctic waters, the Strait was surveyed in detail by the Soviet Navy during the Cold War.Bylot Island
Bylot Island lies off the northern end of Baffin Island in Nunavut Territory, Canada. Eclipse Sound to the southeast and Navy Board Inlet to the southwest separate it from Baffin Island. Parry Channel lies to its northwest. At 11,067 km2 (4,273 sq mi) it is ranked 71st largest island in the world and Canada's 17th largest island. The island measures 180 km (110 mi) east to west and 110 km (68 mi) north to south and is one of the largest uninhabited islands in the world. While there are no permanent settlements on this Canadian Arctic island, Inuit from Pond Inlet and elsewhere regularly travel to Bylot Island. An Inuit seasonal hunting camp is located southwest of Cape Graham Moore.
The island's mountains are part of the Byam Martin Mountains, which is part of the Baffin Mountains of the Arctic Cordillera. In addition to Angilaaq Mountain, Malik Mountain, Mount St. Hans, and Mount Thule are notable. Tay Bay is on the west coast. Vertical cliffs along the coastline are made up of Precambrian dolomite. There are numerous glaciers. The western shore faces Navy Board Inlet. The island's north shore, facing Lancaster Sound, is a polar bear maternity den area. Beluga, bowhead whale, harp seal, narwhal, and ringed seal frequent the area.
The island is named for the Arctic explorer Robert Bylot, who was the first European to sight it in 1616. The whaling captain William Adams was the first to prove the island's insular nature in 1872.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.Grey Goose Island
Grey Goose Island is one of several, larger, uninhabited Canadian arctic islands in Nunavut, Canada located within the midsection of James Bay. Other comparable islands in the area include the Bear Islands, North and South Twin Islands, Spencer Island, Sunday Island, and Walter Island. La Grande River and the Cree village of Chisasibi, Quebec are 65 km (40 mi) to the southeast.The island is low-lying and flat, dominated by rock and sand. It is devoid of trees, although there are grasses and other hardy plants. It is frequented by Arctic fox, Ringed seal, Beluga whale, caribou, and polar bears. A major migration route for geese, notable bird populations include American pipit, Arctic tern, black guillemot, common eider, common loon, great black-backed gull, gyrfalcon, herring gull, Pacific loon, purple sandpiper, red-necked phalarope, red-throated loon, and semipalmated plover.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.Kolovesi National Park
Kolovesi National Park (Finnish: Koloveden kansallispuisto) is a national park in the Etelä-Savo region of Finland. It was established in 1990 and covers 23 km2 (8.9 sq mi). It protects e.g. the habitat of the critically endangered Saimaa Ringed Seal. Typical of the rugged scenery of Kolovesi, formed by the ice age, are craggy cliffs rising from the water. Cave paintings have been discovered in the area.Ladoga seal
The Ladoga ringed seal (Russian: Ладожская нерпа; Pusa hispida ladogensis), is a freshwater subspecies of the ringed seal (Pusa hispida) which are found entirely in Lake Ladoga in northwestern Russia. The subspecies evolved during the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago. As the glaciers retreated and water levels changed, the Baltic ringed seal (including Ladoga seals) was trapped in freshwater lakes and separated from the Arctic ringed seal.
It is related to the even smaller population of Saimaa ringed seals in Lake Saimaa, a lake that flows into Ladoga through the Vuoksi River.Linnansaari National Park
Linnansaari National Park (Finnish: Linnansaaren kansallispuisto) is a national park in the Southern Savonia and Northern Savonia regions of Finland. It lies in the middle of the lake Haukivesi, a part of greater Saimaa. The National Park was established to conserve the valuable natural features of the Finnish lakeland.
On the main island there's an old croft. Slash-and-burn agriculture is still practised on its fields to conserve the old cultural landscape and the associated plant and animal species. A large part of the island is natural-state coniferous forest, with some herb-rich parts.
The critically endangered Saimaa Ringed Seal inhabits the park.Nettilling Lake
Nettilling Lake [nech'iling] is a cold freshwater lake located toward the south end of Baffin Island in Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. It is also the world's largest lake on an island, with an area of 5,542 square kilometres (2,140 sq mi) and a maximum length of 123 kilometres (76 mi). The lake is in the Great Plain of the Koukdjuak about 280 km northwest of Iqaluit. The Arctic Circle crosses the lake. The lake's name is of Inuktitut origin, coming from the word for the adult ringed seal (netsilak). Franz Boas explored its southern shore in 1884.
Nettilling is the largest lake in Nunavut. It is fed by the second largest lake on Baffin Island, Amadjuak Lake; as well as several other smaller lakes and streams. It empties west via the very shallow Koukdjuak River into Foxe Basin. The eastern half has many small islands and the western half is deeper with no islands. The lake is frozen for most of the year. Ringed seals live in the lake and only three species of fish have been recorded there: the Arctic char as well as the ninespine and threespine stickleback. The tundra around the lake and south to Amadjuak Lake is important for barren-ground caribou feeding and calving.
Nettilling Lake is the eleventh largest in Canada, being one of the largest lakes entirely within Canada.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.Pusa (disambiguation)
Pusa or PUSA may refer to:
Pusa, a genus of ringed sealRelict (biology)
In biogeography and paleontology a relict is a population or taxon of organisms that was more widespread or more diverse in the past. A relictual population is a population that presently occurs in a restricted area, but whose original range was far wider during a previous geologic epoch. Similarly, a relictual taxon is a taxon (e.g. species or other lineage) that is the sole surviving representative of a formerly diverse group.Ringed seals and climate change
Ringed seals are the smallest and most abundant member of the seal family that live in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions. The average life span of a ringed seal is 40 years, with a diet based mainly on Arctic cod and planktonic crustaceans. Typically about 5 feet (1.5 m) long, the ringed seal is known to be solitary with their main predator being polar bears. Recently, however, the biggest predator to ringed seals has been the changing temperature in the Arctic and the detrimental changes to sea ice that follow. With declines in snowpack and sea ice due to warming ocean and atmospheric temperatures, survival has become tougher for ringed seals in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions. Yet ringed seals are also potentially projected to thrive due to warming, considering the early extinction of their predators. Climate change is sure to change the fate of all ringed seals in the coming years for better or worse.Saimaa
Saimaa (Swedish: Saimen) is a lake in southeastern Finland. At approximately 4,400 square kilometres (1,700 sq mi), it is the largest lake in Finland, and the fourth largest natural freshwater lake in Europe. It was formed by glacial melting at the end of the Ice Age. Major towns on the lakeshore include Lappeenranta, Imatra, Savonlinna, Mikkeli, Varkaus, and Joensuu. The Vuoksi River flows from Saimaa to Lake Ladoga. Most of the lake is spotted with islands, and narrow canals divide the lake in many parts, each having their own names (major basins include Suur-Saimaa, Orivesi, Puruvesi, Haukivesi, Yövesi, Pihlajavesi, and Pyhäselkä). Thus, Saimaa exhibits all major types of lake in Finland at different levels of eutrophication.
In places in the Saimaa basin (an area larger than the lake), "there is more shoreline here per unit of area than anywhere else in the world, the total length being nearly 15,000 kilometres (9,300 mi). The number of islands in the region, 14,000, also shows what a maze of detail the system is."
The Saimaa Canal from Lappeenranta to Vyborg connects Saimaa to the Gulf of Finland. Other canals connect Saimaa to smaller lakes in Eastern Finland and form a network of waterways. These waterways are mainly used to transport wood, minerals, metals, pulp and other cargo, but also tourists use the waterways.
An endangered freshwater seal, the Saimaa Ringed Seal, lives only at Saimaa. Another of the lake's endangered species is the Saimaa salmon.About 6000 years ago, ancient Lake Saimaa, estimated to cover nearly 9,000 km2 (3,500 sq mi) at the time, was abruptly discharged through a new outlet. The event created thousands of square kilometres of new residual wetlands. Following this event, the region saw a population maximum in the decades following only to later return to an ecological development towards old boreal conifer forests which saw a decline in population.
Due to its rich, easily accessible asbestos deposits, the shores of the lake are the most probable origin of asbestos-ceramic, a type of pottery made between c. 1900 BC – 200 AD.
The areas around Saimaa lake are very popular location for summer cabins as well as lake cruises.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.The Extreme (novel)
The Extreme is the 25th book in the Animorphs series, written by K.A. Applegate. It is known to have been ghostwritten by Jeffrey Zeuhlke. It is narrated by Marco.The front cover quote is, "So many Yeerks, so little time...." The inside front cover quote is, "Can you say, 'cold'?"Thesiger Bay
Thesiger Bay is a Canadian Arctic waterway in the Northwest Territories. It is an arm of the Beaufort Sea on southwestern Banks Island. The Masik River empties into Thesiger Bay.
The bay is approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) south of Sachs Harbour.
Ringed seal frequent the area.
Extant Carnivora species