US wants to list ringed, bearded seals as 'threatened'

Dec 04, 2010
A handout photo provided by the World Wildlife Fund shows a rare Saimaa ringed sea, which lives only in Finland, in 2008. The US government on Friday proposed listing six types of seals as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act because they face hardships due to disappearing sea ice and melting snow packs.

The US government on Friday proposed listing six types of seals as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act because they face hardships due to disappearing sea ice and melting snow packs.

Four types of ringed seals that live in the Arctic basin and North Atlantic, as well as two populations of bearded seals in the Pacific Ocean, are among those put forward by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

One of the five recognized subspecies of ringed seals, the Saimaa in Finland, is already listed as endangered.

"Under the proposed rules published today in the Federal Register, the remaining four subspecies of ringed seals -- Arctic, Okhotsk, Baltic and Ladoga -- would all be listed as threatened," NOAA said in a statement.

Arctic ringed seals spend most of their lives on sea ice and they tend to give birth to one pup per year.

"Ringed seal pups are normally born in snow caves in the spring, and are vulnerable to freezing and predation without them," NOAA said.

"That the species produces only a single pup each year may limit the ringed seal's ability to respond to environmental challenges, such as the diminishing ice and snow cover."

NOAA said the bearded seals in the Pacific "are closely associated with sea ice, particularly during the reproduction and molting stages." It noted forecasts predict the ice will decrease "substantially" this century, especially in the Sea of Okhotsk of the western Pacific Ocean.

"The Pacific subpopulation of bearded seals are at risk of becoming endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their ranges, warranting a listing as threatened," NOAA's Fisheries' Service said.

The US government considers species to be "threatened" if they are likely to become endangered in the future.

The bald eagle and the Arctic polar bear are among the animals on the threatened list.

Explore further: Rare south-west fish suffers further decline

Related Stories

Polar bears at risk from ice loss

Oct 14, 2005

Survival of the remaining polar bears is increasingly jeopardized by rapid disappearance of the arctic sea ice, conservation groups say.

Baby seals dying in Baltic Sea

Mar 12, 2008

German conservationists said a warm winter has left hundreds of baby seals dying of cold and starvation in the Baltic Sea.

Endangered Finnish seal stock makes small recovery

Nov 11, 2010

The Saimaa ringed seal population in Finland, which has been on the brink of extinction for decades, increased slightly last year thanks to aggressive conservation efforts, experts said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Fish play a role in seed dispersal over large distances

13 minutes ago

Fish can play a role in seed dispersal over large distances. Heavy seeds in particular pass undamaged through the mouths and intestines of fish and may end up being dispersed for miles, both in an upstream ...

Keeping hungry jumbos at bay

18 hours ago

Until now electric fences and trenches have proved to be the most effective way of protecting farms and villages from night time raids by hungry elephants. But researchers think they may have come up with ...

Rare south-west fish suffers further decline

22 hours ago

Researchers have discovered that the range of one of Western Australia's rarest freshwater fishes, Balston's Pygmy Perch, could have declined by as much as 25 per cent.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.