Ringed seal (Pusa hispida) is the smallest of all species of seal. It is one of the earless seals. It is the solitary animal and most commonly found in the Arctic.
The snout is shaped like a cat and it has a small head. The skin of ringed seals is marked with black spots along with pale gray-to-silver rings that encircle these spots. These rings are most prominent on the back and sides of its body.
Ringed seal has a size range of 3.2 to 5.7 feet and a weight range of 71 to 309 pounds. However, normally, it is no more than 5 feet in length and 150 pounds in weight.
On average, it has a lifespan of 25 to 40 years.
A male seal reaches maturity at the age of 7 years while females reach maturity at 4 years of age. Breeding season occurs in spring.
A female seal bears one pup and continues to nurse it for up to 60 days. A newborn pup has an all-white dense fur called lanugo.
Ringed seals are most widely distributed in the Arctic waters. Off the Pacific, they are found in the Bering Sea. Off the Atlantic, they are found in the Baltic Sea; and the Hudson Bay of northeastern Canada.
They feed on a wide variety of invertebrates and fish like herring, perch, smelt, whitefish, polar cod, sculpin, shrimp and other shrimp-like crustaceans like mysids. Ringed seals dive down to a depth of up to 150 feet during eating.
They are harvested continually by the native peoples of the Arctic since ancient times. Besides, other threats include climate change and bycatch through commercial trawls.
Polar bears actively feed on ringed seals. Likewise, the pups of ringed seals are more vulnerable against glaucous gulls and Arctic foxes that readily eat them. In water, the predators for the adult ringed seals are Greenland sharks, orcas and atlantic walruses.
Other Names: Fjord seal, Netsik, Saimaa seal, Jar seal, Okhotsk ringed seal