Bearded Seals Essay

1622 Words Dec 2nd, 2012 7 Pages
Bearded Seal
(Erignathus barbatus)
So named because of their long whiskers, the ice-inhabiting bearded seals are found around Greenland, Hudson Bay, the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas up to a northern limit of 80-85 ° N (King, 1983; Kelly, 1988). There are two recognized subspecies of bearded seal. The E. barbatus barbatus subspecies is found in the western Laptev Sea, Barents Sea and north Atlantic Ocean as far south as the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the western Atlantic and Iceland / Norway in the eastern Atlantic, individuals occasionally found wandering as far south as Shetlandand the West European continental coast (Bree 2000). The E. barbatus nauticus subspecies inhabits the remainder of the Arctic
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The hunts in Greenland take about 500-1,000 (Reijnders et al., 1993) seals per year. These figures do not include seals that are lost during hunting because they sink when killed and cannot be retrieved.
The bearded seal is listed as an Appendix III species under the Bern Convention (Kovacs and Lowry, 2008), therefore any exploitation must be regulated to keep the populations out of danger, and indiscriminate means of killing are prohibited. However, the Bern Convention’s applicability to seals in the Arctic is limited. Currently, of the European seal-hunting nations, only Norway is signatory to the Convention, while Russia is not, and Greenland, though part of Denmark, is not committed to the EU legislation.
A major concern at the moment is probably the effects that changes in the Arctic climate may be having on the bearded seal's environment, both through changes in water flow and the transport of nutrients through the Bering Strait, and also the loss of ice habitat caused by such factors as global warming (Kovacs and Lydersen, 2008). In addition there are concerns that oil and gas exploration and extraction in many parts of the species' range, particularly in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and the North Sea Route, may cause disturbance to bearded seals as well as possible pollution of the seals, their habitat and their food supply (Wiig et al., 1996; Pagnan, 2000). There is a potential for conflict between bearded

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