Species Profile

Ringed Seal

Scientific Name: Pusa hispida
Other/Previous Names: Phoca hispida
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
COSEWIC Range: Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Pacific Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2019
COSEWIC Status: Special Concern
COSEWIC Status Criteria:
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This small seal needs sea ice to thrive. It is wide-ranging and is the most abundant marine mammal in the Canadian Arctic. It is an important species for Inuit and is the primary prey of Polar Bear. Its population levels and trends are uncertain, although the total population is about 2 million individuals. Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge from local communities across the species’ range suggests that its population status varies regionally, but is generally considered stable. Reductions in the area and duration of sea ice due to climate warming in the Canadian Arctic, with consequent reductions in suitable pupping habitat due to loss of stable ice and a lower spring snow depth, are the primary threats to this species. The Canadian population is predicted to decline over the next three generations, and may become Threatened due to extensive and ongoing changes in sea ice and snow cover in a rapidly-warming Arctic.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Not at Risk in April 1989. Status re-examined and designated Special Concern in November 2019.
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd):

No schedule - No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Protection

Federal Protection

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

3 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Ringed Seal (Pusa hispida) in Canada (2020-10-15)

    Ringed Seal is a phocid seal with five subspecies, one of which occurs in Canada: Arctic Ringed Seal (Pusa hispida hispida). They are one of the smallest pinnipeds, with average adults being 1.5 m long and weighing 70 kg—males being slightly larger than females. Ringed Seal is important both economically and culturally to northern peoples and are important prey for the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus). Note: This COSEWIC assessment was received by the Minister on September 2, 2020.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Ringed Seal (2020-12-02)

    This small seal needs sea ice to thrive. It is wide-ranging and is the most abundant marine mammal in the Canadian Arctic. It is an important species for Inuit and is the primary prey of Polar Bear. Its population levels and trends are uncertain, although the total population is about 2 million individuals. Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge from local communities across the species’ range suggests that its population status varies regionally, but is generally considered stable. Reductions in the area and duration of sea ice due to climate warming in the Canadian Arctic, with consequent reductions in suitable pupping habitat due to loss of stable ice and a lower spring snow depth, are the primary threats to this species. The Canadian population is predicted to decline over the next three generations, and may become Threatened due to extensive and ongoing changes in sea ice and snow cover in a rapidly-warming Arctic.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report 2019 to 2020 (2020-09-02)

    Over the past year COSEWIC assessed a total of 21 wildlife species, none of which were assigned a status of Not at Risk. Of these 21, COSEWIC re-examined the status of nine wildlife species; of these, 44% were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 810 wildlife species in various risk categories including 363 Endangered, 190 Threatened, 235 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated (i.e. no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 19 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, 59 wildlife species have been designated as Data Deficient, and 198 have been assessed as Not at Risk.
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