Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Arctic Warming Endangers Ringed Seals

Animals
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.

An Edith's Checkerspot butterfly in Los Padres National Forest in Southern California. Patricia Marroquin / Moment / Getty Images

Butterflies across the U.S. West are disappearing, and now researchers say the climate crisis is largely to blame.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A wildfire burns in the Hollywood hills on July 19, 2016 in Hollywood, California. AaronP / Bauer-Griffin / GC Images

California faces another "critically dry year" according to state officials, and a destructive wildfire season looms on its horizon. But in a state that welcomes innovation, water efficacy approaches and drought management could replenish California, increasingly threatened by the climate's new extremes.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Wisdom is seen with her chick in Feb. 2021 at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Jon Brack / Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge / Flickr / CC 2.0

Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.

Read More Show Less
Wind turbines in Norway. piola66 / E+ / Getty Images

By Hui Hu

Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.

Read More Show Less
Jaffa Port in Israel. theDOCK innovated the Israeli maritime space and kickstarted a boom in new technologies. Pixabay

While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.

Read More Show Less