Baltic ringed seal
(Phoca hispida botnica), vikare (SWE), Itämerennorppa (FIN)
Ringed seals moult on the last
remaining ice floes in April-May.
Photo: Mervi Kunnasranta
The Baltic ringed seal is included among the subspecies of the ringed seal, as are the Saimaa ringed seal (P. h. saimensis) and Ladoga ringed seal (P. h. ladogensis) as well. The size of the Baltic ringed seal males and females is almost equal. An adult ringed seal reaches the length of 130-160 cm and can weigh between 50 and 120 kg. The coat of the adult ringed seal typically has circular markings on it. On average, ringed seals become mature at the age between 3 and 6 years, the female earlier than the male.
Ringed seals look for the strongest areas of ice for breeding and reproduction. Breathing holes in the ice and snow caves (lairs) made by these seals also enable them to live in the areas of sea where the ice is fast. A pup is born in February-March in the lair which the mother has dug in one of the snowdrifts on the pack-ice.
The pup when born weighs on average five kilograms, and its nursing lasts for about 5–7 weeks. A pup grows on average more than 350 grams per day. Towards the end of the nursing period the female comes to heat.
Ringed seals exhibit a high site fidelity, although young animals can move long distances.
Baltic seals – balancing between sustainable ecosystem management and fisheries (ECOSEAL)
Perämeren norpan ekologia (in Finnish)