Alaska Species Explorer

Ringed Seal

Common Name: Ringed Seal
Scientific Name: Phoca hispida
Alaska Distribution:

The ringed seal is found in the Northern Hemisphere with a circumpolar distribution ranging from 35°N to the North Pole. There is only one recognized stock of ringed seals in U.S. waters: the Alaska stock.

Conservation Status:

There are 4 subspecies: Ladoga (Phoca hispida ladogensis), Arctic (Phoca hispida hispida), Okhotsk (Phoca hispida ochotensis), and Baltic (Phoca hispida botnica).  Arctic is the only species found in U.S waters.  In December 2012 they were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Average Length: 5ft
Average Weight: 110-150lbs
Diet in the Wild: Fish and invertebrates, such as mysids, shrimp, arctic cod, and herring
Reproduction Period:

Females give birth to a single pup in March or April after a 9 month gestation period. Pups are weaned after one month and females usually begin mating in late April. During the spring breeding season, females construct lairs within the thick ice and give birth in these structures.

Habitat: Reside in arctic waters and are commonly associated with ice floes and pack ice.
Threats in the Wild: Subsistence hunting and polar bears
Did you know?:
  • The ringed seal is the smallest and most common seal in the Arctic.
  • Climate change is potentially the most serious threat to ringed seal populations since much of their habitat is dependent upon pack ice
  • They have strong claws that are used to maintain breathing holes through up to 6 ft (2 m) thick ice.
Additional References: