Don't Shave the Seals. Save them.
What you need to know
- The Bearded Seal is a member of the marine mammal class.
- There are two recognized subspecies: E. barbatus barbatus and E. barbatus nauticus.
- It's name is derived from the long whiskers on its face resembling a mustache or beard.
- Bearded seals are the largest of the northern phocid seals. Adults are 2–2.5 meters long and are grey-brown in colour (some have irregular light-coloured patches).
- While most seals give birth to white pups, the pups of the Bearded seal are of a darker coloration.
- The Bearded Seal lives up to 30 years old.
Feeding Habits and Diet
Mating/ Reproductive Behavior
- Ice-inhabiting seals found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
- The two subspecies live in different areas:
- E. barbatus barbatus lives in the western Laptev Sea, Barents Sea and north Atlantic Ocean.
- E. barbatus nauticus is found in the Arctic Ocean and the Bering and Okhotsk Seas.
Feeding Habits and Diet
The Bearded Seal feeds mainly from the sea bed, with a diet consisting of crabs, shrimps, clams, whelks, arctic cod and flounder.
They feed in water depths of less than 130 meters.
They are preyed upon by polar bears and orca.
Mating/ Reproductive Behavior
Between March and June, male bearded seals perform intricate vocalizations underwater to attract females.
Some males attract females through territory, while others travel large distances in search of a mate.
It mates underwater, but gives birth on the drifting ice floes and on the edges of pack-ice.
While Bearded Seals can live on land, they are best adapted to live in water.
No external ears: merely small holes on the side of the sleek head.
Backward-pointing hind flippers that are used to propel itself effortlessly through the water. However, the flippers to not rotate, leaving them unable to walk on land, only belly crawl.
The high fat content of the milk (up to 50 percent) enables the rapid growth of the young pups.
U.S. Endangered Species Act
- Signed on December 28, 1973, the U.S. Endangered Species Act provides a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found.
IUCN Red List
- The Red List provides the most expansive and most accurate list of the conservation status of species. It uses easy and widely understood criteria to determine the extinction risk of thousands of species.
Both are essential for the classification and conservation of endangered species!
Seals Would Be First Alaskan Species Since Polar Bear to Be Listed Due to Climate Change!
Save the Bearded Seals
- The Bearded Seal is currently labeled on IUCN Red List as near threatened.
- The impact of natural events and human-caused activities on bearded seal populations is difficult to determine because accurate population data is not available.
- Declines measured over the longer of 10 years or 3 generations.
- Future populations should be closely monitored due to the projected climate change and resulting habitat destruction, as well as human interaction.
Climate Change + Habitat Destruction
- A growing concern is change in the Arctic climate which is changing water flow and nutrient transport in the Bering Strait.
- Another concern is the decrease in ice habitat caused by global warming. Ice is essential to the survival of Bearded Seals, as they use it for protection, feeding, and mating.
- Oil and gas interests in the bearded seal habitat, particularly the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, could contribute to the destruction of their habitat and decrease food supply.
- The seals' winter sea-ice habitat in the Bering, Okhotsk and Barents seas is projected to decline by at least 40 percent by 2050, while summer sea ice across the Arctic has been projected to disappear in the next 20 years.
- Ship traffic in the Northern Sea Route is also a cause for concern.
- Commercial fishing may cause problems in the central Bering Sea if bearded seal prey such as clams, crabs, snails, and whelks are depleted. Overfishing often disturbs the delicate balance of ecosystems.
- Arctic coastal communities hunt Bearded Seals for food, fur and oil. An estimated 1,500-2,000 seals have been killed annually in the Bering and Okhotsk Seas, however current figures are unavailable.
Current Conservation Efforts
- The Marine Mammal Center works to conserve the lives of marine mammals such as the Bearded Seal.
- WWF is working with its many partners – governments, business and communities – to combat the threats present in their environment (i.e. climate change) and preserve the region’s rich biodiversity.
"Bearded Seal (Erignathus Barbatus)." :: NOAA Fisheries. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2016.
"NOAA Lists Ringed and Bearded Ice Seal Populations under the Endangered Species Act :: NOAA Fisheries." NOAA Lists Ringed and Bearded Ice Seal Populations under the Endangered Species Act :: NOAA Fisheries. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2016.
"Support the." The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2016.
Vadillo, Juan. "El Delirio Frente a La Razón En El Quijote." Elsevier: Article Locator. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2016.
Vadillo, Juan. "Select a Website below to Get This Article." Elsevier: Article Locator. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2016.
"WWF - The Arctic." The Arctic. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 June 2016.