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Ringed Seal Photo Stream Team Members Gallery Videos
Researchers from the AFSC National Marine Mammal Laboratory’s Polar Ecosystems Program spent 29 days (13 May- 11 June 2009) working to improve our understanding of the ecology, distribution, and abundance of seals in the Bering Sea. Bearded, spotted, ringed, and ribbon seals, often referred to collectively as “ice seals,” are seasonally ice-associated species that may be vulnerable to climate change through loss of sea ice. The ice seals found in the Bering Sea during spring have rarely been studied, and there are no current estimates of abundance or comprehensive descriptions of their distribution and habitat use. Further, the ice seals also are critical to the nutritional and cultural sustainability of Alaska Native communities along the Bering Sea coast. A fundamental understanding of these seals’ abundance, distribution, and foraging ecology is essential for NOAA to meet its Protected Resources mandates.

This research cruise on board the NOAA ship McArthur II focused on two key components:

  • Locate, capture, sample, and apply satellite-linked tags to ribbon and spotted seals in the marginal ice zone of the Bering Sea, and
  • Evaluate the utility of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) technology to improve ice seal abundance and distribution estimates by flying sensor test flights and limited line transect surveys with an Insight A-20 UAS.

Cruise Videos Here

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Shawn Dahle
Shawn Dahle
2009-06-07 02:20:36
61 23.0206
174 16.7309

Ringed Seal Pup

Ringed Seal Pup

Catching this ringed seal pup was a bit of a surprise. Many ringed seals breed near shore on land-fast ice, and the pups are not common along the southern pack ice edge in the Bering Sea. We took some measurements and biological samples from this little guy and then let him be on his way.

Shawn Dahle
Shawn Dahle
2009-06-07 02:17:54
61 22.9918
174 16.7530

Double-tagged

Double-tagged

This adult male ribbon seal was fitted with two types of satellite tags. The head-mounted SPLASH tag provides diving and location data even while the seal is at sea, but will fall off when the seal molts next spring. The flipper-mounted SPOT tag provides location data only when the seal is hauled out on ice, but will hopefully last 3 or more years.

Josh London
Josh London
2009-06-07 02:12:03
61 22.9221
174 16.8177

Curious Young Ribbon Seal

Curious Young Ribbon Seal

This weaned ribbon seal pup came over to get a closer look at researcher Josh London's boots. The pups show little fear or avoidance of humans on the ice.

Josh London
Josh London
2009-06-07 02:11:58
61 22.9213
174 16.8190

Young Ribbon Seal and McArthur II

Young Ribbon Seal and McArthur II

A young ribbon seal with the McArthur II in the background.

Josh London
Josh London
2009-06-07 02:11:53
61 22.9201
174 16.8205

Young Ribbon Seal and McArthur II

Young Ribbon Seal and McArthur II

A young ribbon seal with the McArthur II in the background.

Josh London
Josh London
2009-06-07 00:47:02
61 22.8987
174 17.9210

Molt

Molt

Every year, ribbon seals grow a new coat of hair. During this period, both the new and old hair is visible on some animals. In this photo, the older hair is brown and loose. The new hair is black.

Shawn Dahle
Shawn Dahle
2009-06-06 06:09:43
61 25.3804
174 33.9853

Ghost ship

Ghost ship

Fog shrouds the McArthur II as the seal team navigates back to the ship.

Josh London
Josh London
2009-06-06 02:56:16
61 22.5008
174 37.7706

Peeking Over the Edge

Peeking Over the Edge

An adult male ribbon seal peeks over a ridge on an ice floe after release.

   
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