Ringed Seal

Colour - back and sides brown with numerous light rings; belly, flippers, and head lighter

Length - 1.25 to 1.5 metres

Shape - short and plump

Behaviour - in spring, dens under snow cover on fast ice and whelps

Distribution - present in fast ice year-round (Barrow Strait usually has many dens); can be in open water in summer and fall; migrates from pack ice to fast ice with spring break-up; in spring, large numbers are seen hauled out on the ice beside leads; diet consists mainly of large zooplankton and benthic invertebrates

Sensitivity - when hauled-out on the ice may dive when approached by low-flying aircraft or helicopter; scientific evidence about reaction to vessels is lacking

Note - The Ringed Seal is the most numerous and widely distributed marine mammal in the Arctic. It is taken in large numbers by Inuit and Inuvialuit hunters and forms the basis of the economy and food supply in many settlements.

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