Bearded seal

Bearded seal. Photo Credit: Mike Hammill

Photo Credit: Mike Hammill

Size: The bearded seal reaches about 2.1 m to 2.7 m in length and weighs between 200-430 kg.

Feeding habits: The bearded seal feeds on a variety of small prey found along the ocean floor, including crabs, clams, squid, and small amounts of fish. Its whiskers serve as feelers in the soft bottom sediments.

Reproduction and life cycle: In the Canadian Arctic, seal pups are born in May. Further south, in Alaska, most pups are born in late April. Pups are born on small drifting ice floes in shallow waters and enter the water only hours after they are born, and quickly become proficient divers. Pups nurse for 18–24 days, during which time they grow at an average rate of 3.3 kg per day.

Lifespan: 25 years.

Distribution: Bearded seals are found in the Northern Hemisphere with a circumpolar distribution that does not extend farther north than 80°N. In Canada, bearded seals are found throughout the Arctic and along the Labrador coast south to northern Newfoundland.

Population trends: unknown

Conservation status in Canada: The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) defines the status of bearded seals as ‘Data Deficient’.