Ringed Seal

Ringed Seal

name = Ringed Seal
status = LC
status_system = iucn2.3
status_ref = IUCN2006|assessors=Seal Specialist Group|year=1996|id=41672|title=Pusa hispida|downloaded=9 May 2006 Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern]

image_width = 277px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Carnivora
familia = Phocidae
genus = "Pusa"
species = "P. hispida"
binomial = "Pusa hispida"
binomial_authority = (Schreber, 1775)

range_map_width = 240px
synonyms = "Phoca hispida"
The Ringed Seal ("Pusa hispida"), also known as the Jar Seal and as Netsik or Nattiq by the Inuit, is an earless seal inhabiting the northern coasts.


Typical adult Ringed seals are 85 to 160 cm long and weigh 40 to 90 kg. The coat is a light grey spotted with black; the spots often being surrounded with lighter ring markings, from which this seal gets its vernacular name. Ring seals have a small head and small plump bodies. Their snouts are short and narrow.

Range and habitat

Ringed seals live 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. Some subspecies can be found in freshwater.

Life history

Female seals reach maturity at 5-7 years while males usually reach sexual maturity at around 6-8 years. The seals give birth on ice floes or shorefast ice. Seal pups are born from mid March to early April. Gestation period is approximately 9 months. Seal pups depend on maternal care for 40 days and build up a thick layer of blubber. The ringed seals are the only pinnipeds that maintain a breathing hole in the ice thus allowing it to use ice habitat that other seals can not.

Mating starts in between August and September (High Arctic). 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.

The seal's natural predators are orcas, polar bears, wolves and wolverines. In addition for threats from predators, due to the effects of global warming, icepacks have begun breaking up earlier than in the past. Birthing lairs are often destroyed before the seal pup is able to forage on its own leading to poor body condition.


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.

Economic Importance

Examination of Early Paleoeskimo sites in Arctic Canada has demonstrated the deliberate hunting of juvenile and young adult ringed seals, probably in the fall and winter from frozen cracks and leads in the ice (Murray, 2005).


The populations living in different areas have evolved to separate subspecies,which are:

* "Pusa hispida hispida": Arctic coasts of Europe, Russia, Canada and Alaska, including Novaya Zemlya, Spitsbergen, Greenland and Baffin Island.
* "Pusa hispida krascheninikovi": North Bering Sea
* "Pusa hispida ochotensis": Kamchatka, Okhotsk Sea and southward to 35°N, along the Japanese Pacific coast.
* "Pusa hispida botnica" Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia and Gulf of Finland
* "Pusa hispida ladogensis" (Ladoga Seal) Lake Ladoga
* "Pusa hispida saimensis" (Saimaa Ringed Seal, saimaannorppa). Lives only in Lake Saimaa in Finland and is one of the most threatened seals in the world with total population around 250 individuals.

The three last subspecies are isolated from the others, like the closely related Nerpa (Baikal Seal) and Caspian Seal.


* Murray, M. S. (2005). Prehistoric Use of Ringed Seals: A Zooarchaeological Study from Arctic Canada. "Environmental Archaeology" 10 (1): 19-38

See also

*Saimaa Ringed Seal
*Baikal Seal
*Caspian Seal

External links

* [http://www.pinnipeds.org/species/ringed.htm Seal Conservation Society – Ringed Seal]
* [http://virtual.finland.fi/netcomm/news/showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=25721 Saimaa Ringed Seal]
* [http://www.itk.ca/environment/wildlife-ringed-seal.php Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami page on the Ringed Seal]
* [http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pusa_hispida.html Pusa hispida - Animal Diversity Web]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ringed seal — Conservation status Least Concern (IUCN …   Wikipedia

  • Ringed seal — Ringed Ringed, a. 1. Encircled or marked with, or as with, a ring or rings. [1913 Webster] 2. Wearning a wedding ring; hence, lawfully wedded. A ringed wife. Tennyson. [1913 Webster] {Ringed seal} (Zo[ o]l.), a North Pacific seal ({Phoca… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ringed seal — ▪ mammal       (species Pusa, or Phoca, hispida), nonmigratory, earless seal (family Phocidae) of North Polar seas and a few freshwater lakes in Europe and on Baffin Island. Named for the characteristic pale rings on its grayish or yellowish coat …   Universalium

  • ringed seal — žieduotasis ruonis statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Pusa hispida angl. fjord seal; jar seal; marbled seal; ringed seal; rough seal vok. Eismeer Ringelrobbe; geringelter Seehund; marmorierte Robbe;… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

  • ringed seal — noun : a seal (Phoca hispida) of northern waters having ringlike white spots on the body * * * ringed seal, a common seal of arctic regions, brownish above and yellowish below with ringlike markings on the sides; floe rat. * * * n. a seal of… …   Useful english dictionary

  • ringed seal — noun An earless seal inhabiting arctic and subarctic coasts. Syn: jar seal …   Wiktionary

  • Saimaa Ringed Seal — Taxobox name = Saimaa Ringed Seal status = EN status system = iucn3.1 status ref = regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Mammalia ordo = Carnivora familia = Phocidae genus = Pusa species = P. hispida subspecies = P. h. saimensis trinomial …   Wikipedia

  • Saimaa ringed seal — Conservation status Endangered (ESA)[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Saimaa ringed seal — noun A subspecies of the ringed seal, lives only in Lake Saimaa in Finland …   Wiktionary

  • Ringed — Ringed, a. 1. Encircled or marked with, or as with, a ring or rings. [1913 Webster] 2. Wearning a wedding ring; hence, lawfully wedded. A ringed wife. Tennyson. [1913 Webster] {Ringed seal} (Zo[ o]l.), a North Pacific seal ({Phoca f[oe]tida})… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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