Maps: Bearded Seal: Important Habitat Areas

Bearded seal habitat


The shape for Total Subsistence Use Area is partly made up of Cenaliulriit CRSA data that represents all marine mammals collectively.


bearded seal and oil
Top: Bearded seal. Photo credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Bottom: Seal oil storage—Toksook Bay. Photo credit: Muriel Morse

Central Yup’ik: Maklak

St. Lawrence Island Yupik: Maklak

Inupiaq: Ugruk

Scientific: Erignathus barbatus

Bearded seals have pups on the floating ice in May and June, when the brant fly north and the ice begins to break up.17 From “Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Seals in Norton Bay, Alaska”

Male bearded seals ‘holler’ underwater in spring. This can be heard by placing one end of a paddle or pole in the water and holding one’s ear to the other end. Bearded seals can be heard up to a mile away. When they are close, one can often see bubbles rising to the surface from the seal.18 From “Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Seals in Norton Bay, Alaska”

Bearded seals may play dead when hunted, and so hunters must be careful and prepared for the bearded seal to come back to life. When bearded seals were hunted from kayaks, hunters towing the animals to shore would hold the rope in their teeth so that if the animal came back to life, the hunter would at worst lose teeth rather than have his boat pulled underwater.19 From “Traditional Ecological knowledge of seals in Norton Bay, Alaska”

Bearded seals are the largest of Alaska’s ice-associated seals. Adults weigh up to 800 pounds when the blubber is thickest in late winter.20 Bearded seals exhibit a year-round association with moving sea ice, usually in waters less than 200 meters (600 feet) deep in the Bering, Beaufort and Chukchi seas.21 They dive to depths of about 130 meters (390 feet) to feed on benthic invertebrates such as crabs, shrimp, clams and snails.22 They are also known to prey to a lesser extent on saffron and Arctic cod.23

Other Important Seal Habitats:
Bearded Seal
Ribbon Seal
Ringed Seal
Spotted Seal

Last Updated: 
Tue, 01/12/2016