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, P. B. CONN, K. L. LAIDRE, and P. L. BOVENG.
2015. The relationship between sea ice concentration and the spatio-temporal distribution of vocalizing bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) in the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas from 2008 to 2011. Prog. Oceanogr. 136:241-249.
- 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.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Bearded Seal publications
- Movements and Winter Site Fidelity of Bearded Seals in the Bering Sea
957 KB Online.
- Dive Behavior and Spatial Variability of Bearded, Ribbon and Spotted Seals in the Bering and Chukchi Seas
2.96 MB Online.
- Dive Behavior of Bearded, Ribbon and Spotted Seals in the Bering and Chukchi Seas
3.91 MB Online.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Bearded Seal posters