Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Arctic Warming Endangers Ringed Seals

Arctic Warming Endangers Ringed Seals
A ringed seal swims in a water tank at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan on July 26, 2013. Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP / Getty Images

Ringed seals spend most of the year hidden in icy Arctic waters, breathing through holes they create in the thick sea ice.

But when seal pups are born each spring, they don't have a blubber layer, which is their protection from cold.

Marine biologist Brendan Kelly is executive director of a collaborative program called the Study of Environmental Arctic Change. He says the seal pups spend the first months of their lives nestled in snow caves on top of the ice.

But as the climate warms, that snow is starting to melt earlier in the year, before pups can handle the cold.

"The pup is suddenly exposed to the elements," Kelly says. "And it tends to get wet at this point. It gets cold at night, or the temperature just goes back down again for a while, and we see freezing deaths to the pups."

Without the protection of their snow caves, the pups are also more likely to be eaten by polar bears and other predators.

According to regional climate models, snow depth in parts of the ring seals' pupping habitat could be reduced by up to 70% by the end of the century.

"When you see this kind of massive habitat loss in a short time period, it doesn't bode well," Kelly says. "They're likely to become endangered in the coming decades."

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

Could mouthwash help stop the spread of the new coronavirus? Craig F. Walker / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Could mouthwash help stop the spread of the new coronavirus?

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

This turtle dove is part of Operation Turtle Dove; the European Commission estimates there may be fewer than 5,000 pairs left in the UK. Ian / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Naomi Larsson

For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.

Read More Show Less


We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.

Read More Show Less
Swimming alongside an animatronic dolphin, a person learns about hydrodynamics. Edge Innovations

Life-sized, ultra-realistic robotic dolphins could help end animal captivity by replacing living creatures in aquariums and theme parks.

Read More Show Less
A Stop the Money Pipeline protester holds a banner outside JP Morgan headquarters in NYC on Feb. 25, 2020; JP Morgan is a top contributor to the fossil fuel industry. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch