Bearded seals are circumpolar in their distribution, extending from the Arctic Ocean (85*N) south to Hokkaido (45*N) in the western Pacific. They generally inhabit areas of shallow water (less than 200 m) that are at least seasonally ice covered. During winter they are most common in broken pack ice and in some areas also inhabit shorefast ice. In the spring, bearded seals tend to prefer areas of between 70% and 90% sea ice coverage, and are typically more abundant 20-100 nmi from shore than within 20 nmi of shore. The overall summer distribution is quite broad, with seals rarely hauled out on land. The are generally solitary except during the breeding season. Adults are 2.1 to 2.4 m in length; the females are slightly longer than the males. Pups are born between mid March and early May; they have a short nursing period and are weaned at 12 to 19 days.
- Ice Seal Distribution Data
- Current Research Projects by the Polar Ecosystems Program
- Publications: search AFSC database for Bearded Seals
- Posters: search AFSC database for Bearded Seals
- Quarterly Reports
- Habitat use and seasonal movements of adult and sub-adult bearded seals in Kotzebue Sound, Alaska
- Seattle Times - Bering Sea ice seal research article (Oct 2006)
- MacINTYRE, K. Q., K. M. STAFFORD, C. L. BERCHOK, and P. L. BOVENG.
2013. Year-round acoustic detection of bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) in the Beaufort Sea relative to changing environmental conditions, 2008-2010. Polar Biol. 36:1161-1173.
- CAMERON, M. F., J. L. BENGTSON, P. L. BOVENG, J. K. JANSEN, B. P. KELLY, S. P. DAHLE, E. A. LOGERWELL, J. E. OVERLAND, C. L. SABINE, G. T. WARING, and J. M. WILDER. 2010. Status review of the bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus). U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-211, 246 p. (.pdf, 12.4 MB). Online.
- CAMERON, M., and P. BOVENG. 2009. Habitat use and seasonal movements of adult and sub-adult bearded seals. AFSC Quarterly Report Feature (October-November-December 2009) 4 p. (.pdf, 2.19 mb). Online.
- BENGTSON, J. L., L. M. HIRUKI-RARING, M. A. SIMPKINS, and P. L. BOVENG.
2005. Ringed and bearded seals densities in the eastern Chukchi Sea, 1999-2000. Polar Biol. 28:833-845.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Bearded Seal publications
- Dive Behavior of Bearded, Ribbon and Spotted Seals in the Bering and Chukchi Seas
3.91 MB Online.
- Will Global Warming Result in Habitat Gains for Ice-breeding Bearded Seals? (2012 conference)
3.59 MB Online.
- Seasonal Migration of Bearded Seals Between Intensive Foraging Patches Preference and Breeding Site Fidelity
756 KB Online.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Bearded Seal posters