NOAA’s Fisheries Service has proposed that four subspecies of ringed seals – which generally are found in the Arctic Basin and the North Atlantic – and two distinct populations of bearded seals – who make their home in the Pacific Ocean – be placed on the threatened list under the Endangered Species Act.
The reasoning behind putting these animals on the threatened list is due to disappearing sea ice, and diminishing snow cover. The models used to predict the amount of sea ice and snow in the future were from NOAA.
It’s not such a strange request. You see, one of the subspecies of ringed seals is already on the ESA endangered list. Under the new rules proposed by the Federal Register, the other four subspecies of the ringed seals would also be listed as being threatened.
The pups of the ringed seals are generally born in snow caves in the early spring, and are susceptible to low temperatures and being eaten by predators if they don’t have the snow caves for shelter. The changing climate can reduce the amount of snow cover, and rising temperatures can change when the ice breaks up every spring. However, the biggest reason that the ringed seals are being put on the list is that they only give birth to one pup every year, and this can make it hard for them to bounce back from harsh challenges imposed by the rapidly changing climate.
Much for the same reasons, the bearded seal has also been proposed to fall into the same category.