Tag Archives: seals

Shrinking Snow Depth on Arctic Sea Ice Threatens Ringed Seal Habitat

As sea ice in the Arctic continues to shrink during this century, more than two thirds of the area with sufficient snow cover for ringed seals to reproduce also will disappear, challenging their survival, scientists report in a new study.

The ringed seal, currently under consideration for threatened species listing, builds caves to rear its young in snow drifts on sea ice. Snow depths must be on average at least 20 centimeters, or 8 inches, to enable drifts deep enough to support the caves. (more…)

Read More

Number of Dead California Sea Otters Recovered in 2011 a Record High

*Evidence Builds for White Shark Factor in Otter Mortality*

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The California or southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) appears to be experiencing an unprecedented increase in mortality from attacks by sharks, according to federal and state scientists. 

Since 1968, biologists and veterinarians at the U.S. Geological Survey and California Department of Fish and Game have documented and examined all reported sea otter “strandings” —  counting the number of dead, sick or injured sea otters recovered along California’s coast each year. (more…)

Read More

High-Tech Software and Unmanned Planes Allow Scientists to Keep Tabs on Arctic Seals

A novel project using cameras mounted on unmanned aircraft flying over the Arctic is serving double duty by assessing the characteristics of declining sea ice and using the same aerial photos to pinpoint seals that have hauled up on ice floes.

The project is the first to use aircraft to monitor ice and seals in remote areas without putting pilots and observers at risk, said Elizabeth Weatherhead of the University of Colorado at Boulder, who is leading the study team. Weatherhead is a senior scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, a joint venture of CU-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (more…)

Read More