Maps: Ringed Seal: Important Habitat Areas

Ringed seal habitat map


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


ringed seals
Top: Ringed seal. Photo credit: NOAA; Bottom: Boy sleeping on a boat with seal skin floats—Gambell. Source unknown.

Central Yup’ik: Naciq

St. Lawrence Island Yupik: Nazighaq

Inupiaq: Natchiq

Scientific: Phoca hispida

Ringed seals are the only ones that stay on the main [shorefast] ice. Hardly ever see them on the floating ice.29 Elders and Active Hunters (after group discussion)—Elim

Ringed seals are the most common and widespread of the arctic seals.30 Found throughout the Bering, Beaufort and Chukchi seas, they are strongly associated with both seasonal and permanent ice. Ringed seals use the ice for resting, pupping and molting. They rarely come onto land.31 Breeding usually occurs on the shorefast ice, but some breed near the drifting pack ice.32

Ringed seals are capable of maintaining breathing holes in shorefast ice more than 2 meters (6 feet) thick.33 When breathing holes become covered in snow and large drifts, the seals enlarge the holes into subnivean (under snow) lairs, which vary greatly in size and can be multi-chambered. Lairs protect vulnerable pups from frigid air and predators. Individuals or pairs commonly occupy two lairs simultaneously, which allows them to increase the area that they utilize for feeding. A ringed seal using multiple lairs can occupy an area of at least 64 kilometers2 (24 miles2).34

Ringed seals feed on small crustaceans, zooplankton and schooling fish.35

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

Last Updated: 
Tue, 01/12/2016