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: Man 'expelled from Croatia for punching monk seal'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Invasive lionfish likely safe to eat after all

3 hours ago

Scientists have learned that recent fears of invasive lionfish causing fish poisoning may be unfounded. If so, current efforts to control lionfish by fishing derbies and targeted fisheries may remain the ...

Brother of Hibiscus is found alive and well on Maui

19 hours ago

Most people are familiar with Hibiscus flowers- they are an iconic symbol of tropical resorts worldwide where they are commonly planted in the landscape. Some, like Hawaii's State Flower- Hibiscus brackenridgei- are en ...

Boat noise impacts development and survival of sea hares

21 hours ago

While previous studies have shown that marine noise can affect animal movement and communication, with unknown ecological consequences, scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter and the École Pratique des Hautes ...

User comments : 0