Ringing seals are small mammals from the kind of ordinary seals. I also call them ring seals or akibs. They got their name thanks to interesting patterns on the back, in shape resembling rings. Thanks to thick subcutaneous fat, these seals can withstand low temperatures, which allows them to settle in the territory of the Arctic and Subarctic. On Spitsbergen, annoyed seals propagate on the squamous ice in all the fjords.
In addition to the inhabitants of the northern seas, freshwater subspecies are also observed, which are found in Ladoga and Saimensky lakes.
Akibi-small seals from silver-gray to brown. Their stomachs are usually gray, and the backs are darker and have a noticeable pattern of small rings, thanks to which they, in fact, got their name.
The body is dense, short, covered with plush wool. The head is small, the neck is not long. Have large claws with a thickness of more than 2.5 cm, thanks to which they cut holes in the ice. As you know, such holes can reach a depth of up to two meters.
Adult animals reach lengths from 1.1 to 1.6 m and weighing 50-100 kilograms. Like all northern seals, their body weight changes noticeably depending on the season. The ring seals are the most fat in the fall and much thinner by the end of spring beginning of summer, after a period of reproduction and annual molting. Males are slightly larger than females, and in the spring period, male individuals look much darker than female because of the oily secretion of glands in the face. At another time of the year they are difficult to distinguish. At birth, the cubs have a length of about 60 cm and weigh about 4.5 kg. They are covered with light gray fur, lighter on the stomach and darker on the back. Patterns on fur are formed with age.
Thanks to welldeveloped vision, smell and hearing seals are great hunters.
Habitat and habits
As mentioned above, the main habitat of these pretty predators is the Arctic and Subarctic. For most of the range, they use sea ice exclusively as a place of reproduction, molting and rest. They rarely crawl on land and reluctantly.
Lead a separate lifestyle. They rarely gather in groups, mainly this happens in the wedding period, in the warm season. Then in the coastal zone you can find the roots of ring seals, numbering up to 50 individuals.
Their ability to create and maintain holes for breathing in ice allows you to live even in areas where other animals, also adapted to low temperatures, cannot be located.
Despite the good adaptability to frost, ring seals sometimes encounter the temperature problems of the Arctic winter. In order to hide from the cold, they create lairs in the snow at the top of sea ice. Such holes are especially important for neonatal survival.
Ring seals excellent dives. They are capable of plunging by more than 500 m, although in the main areas of power the depth does not exceed this mark.
Outside the reproduction season and molting, the distribution of the ring seal is adjusted by the presence of food. Numerous studies of their diet were conducted, and, despite significant regional differences, distinguish general patterns.
The main food of these animals is a fish characteristic of a particular region. As a rule, no more than 10-15 victims with 2-4 dominant species are found in the field of view of the seal. They select a small food in size up to 15 cm in length, and up to 6 cm. In width.
They eat fish more often than invertebrates, but the choice often depends on the season and the energy value of production. Typically, the diet of ringleled seals includes a nourishing cod, perch, herring and cape, which are rich in the waters of the northern seas. The use of invertebrates, apparently, becomes relevant in the summer, and prevails in the diet of a young number.
Females of ringleads reach puberty at the age of 4 years, while males only by 7 years. Females dig small caves in thick ice on an ice floe or shore. The offspring is born after a ninemonth pregnancy in March or April. As a rule, one cub is born. Excommunication from milk takes a little more than 1 month. During this time, the newborn gains up to 20 kg of weight. In a few weeks they can be under water for 10 minutes.
After the birth of the kids, the females are again ready for mating, usually this happens at the end of April. After fertilization, males, as a rule, leave the future mother in search of a new object for copulation.
The life expectancy of ringed seals in the wild, according to various sources, is 25-30 years.
The existing data on the prevalence of the annular seal were collected and analyzed as part of the Red Book of MSOP 2016 for five recognized subspecies. Assessments of the number of mature individuals and the trends of the population for each of these subspecies were as follows:
Due to a large spatial scale, it is quite difficult to trace the exact number of subspecies of the Arctic and Okhotsk. Referring to many factors, such as extensive habitats occupied by species, uneven settlement in the examined areas, unknown connection between the observed individuals and those who were not seen, do not allow researchers to establish an exact number.
Nevertheless, the above numbers show that the number of mature individuals is more than 1.5 million., and the total population is more than 3 million. individuals.
In addition to polar bears that pose the greatest danger to ring seals, these animals often become victims of walruses, wolves, wolves, foxes, and even large ravens and gulls that hunt for cubs.
However, it is not the natural regulation of the number of populations that caused the introduction of ring seals in the Red Book, but the human factor. The fact is that, despite all the protection measures, many peoples of the North to this day continue to hunt for the seal, as a source of valuable meat and skins.
In general, regardless of various programs, a mine has not created a single reserve in which the ringed seals could freely increase their population.