Wildlife Fact Sheets

Ringed Seal


Ringed Seal

Pusa hispida

  • Life Span
    25-30 years
  • Habitat
    I tend to stay near icy shores, but with my ability to excavate ice, I can venture much farther out than other seal species.
  • Range
    You can find me in the Northern Hemisphere’s circumpolar oceans.
  • Preferred Food
    I munch on polar and Arctic cod as well as a variety of crustaceans.


Ringed seals are the smallest seal species—and the cutest if you ask me. Our name was given due to the light-colored circular patterns that appear on our backs. What makes us really stand out, however, is the ability to build breathing holes. I can use the claws on my front flippers to excavate ice, that enables me to live farther from the shore . During dives, I can reach depths of 300 feet and hold my breath for 45 minutes. I must be careful before resurfacing though, there are predators like polar bears that try to catch me!

The Arctic is heating up fast. The largest threat to our species is climate change, affecting both our habitat and the food we eat. As sea ice melts, more water is opening up for ship traffic and oil drilling, posing a threat to Arctic wildlife. With increasing ship traffic comes more noise and water pollution and a higher risk of damaging oil spills.

Did You Know?

In the spring, male ringed seals have darker faces than females due to an oil gland secretion. Indigenous hunters avoid these breeding seals because they have a strong and unpleasant smell.

Status and Conservation

I am a solitary creature, enjoying my alone time. The only time I interact with other seals is during mating season. We gather on the sea ice to breed, molt and rest together. If there is enough snow, we build snow caves, or lairs, around our breathing holes and will guard them furiously.

Fast Facts


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