Separate Biological Review Teams (BRTs) were convened by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to assess the best available information concerning the status of bearded, ringed, ribbon, and spotted seals along with past, present, and future threats to each of these species in response to petitions filed by the Center for Biological Diversity. The petitions sought to list these ice-associated seals as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, primarily due to concern about threats to the species' habitat from climate warming and diminishing ice cover.
The BRT's review included delineating the distributions and any population structure within each species and assessing the risk of extinction at present and in the foreseeable future. The reviews informed the Secretary of Commerce's decisions on whether to list these four species of ice-associated seals as endangered or threatened in all or part of their respective range.
The data files associated with the maps below contain the most current distribution information available for download for the four species of ice-associated seals mentioned above. (Click maps to enlarge.) Status reviews are available for downloading in pdf format in the citations provided below.