|Spotted Seals are found in North Pacific waters, including the Bering, Okhotsk, Beaufort, and Chukchi seas. They can also be found in the northern areas of the Yellow Sea. These seals are gray with dark spots all over and they have round heads and short flippers. They usually are about 4.5-5.5 feet in length and weigh up to 250 pounds, and they can live to be 35 years old.1
These seals belong to the pinniped group, which is also the group of sea lions and walruses.2 Spotted Seals are very reliant on ice floes, especially during the winter and spring months. They’ll give birth to their offspring on these ice floes and will also use the ice to rest.3
Spotted Seals are monogamous during mating season, and males and females will stay together until the offspring are weaned (usually 4-6 weeks).2&3 When they’re born, offspring are about 20 pounds and almost three feet long. They also are born with a white coat. This is called lanugo, and it’s important for their survival because it keeps them warm until they have enough blubber on their bodies to keep warm without it.2
Spotted Seals do have predators and they include:2
- Sleeper sharks
- Killer whales
- Polar bears
- Sea lions
In turn, Spotted Seals prey on fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods. Usually, younger seals go after crustaceans while older seals will eat mostly fish.1
Spotted Seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. There is a recognized group of Spotted Seals in Alaska. There’s also a group of Spotted Seals recognized outside of the United States that is considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act.1
Because these seals depend on sea ice, they’re very affected by global warming. Other threats include oil and gas development in their waters, shipping activity, noise pollution, getting caught as bycatch, and humans disturbing their habitats.3
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