MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Ringed seal (Pusa hispida)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

The ringed seal Phoca hispida is member of the 'true seal' family. Like all true seals, it has a tapering and pointed muzzle, small, clawed pectoral flippers, and small hind flippers that cannot rotate under the body. Like similar species, it has beaded whiskers on the muzzle. The ringed seal is quite a plump seal, with a small head and a short, thick neck. It can reach 1.6 m in length. It has a short muzzle and large conspicuous eyes. It is most easily recognised by the light rings it has all over its upper body. The background colour is variable but normally medium to dark grey above and light grey below.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Occasionally seen in the North Sea as far south as the eastern English Channel and in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. Usually found north of the British Isles.

Global distribution

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Habitat

The ringed seal usually inhabits cold oceanic waters.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Bulky body up to 1.6 m in length.
  • Small tapering muzzle with beaded whiskers.
  • Short, thick neck.
  • No external ear.
  • Small pectoral and hind flippers.
  • Light rings over upper side of the body.

Additional information

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Bibliography

  1. BMLSS (British Marine Life Study Society), 2008. Sea Mammals: Seals Page. www.glaucus.org.uk/seals1.htm, 2008-03-13

  2. Corbet, G.B. & Southern, H.N., 1977. The handbook of British Mammals. 2nd edition. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford & London.

  3. Evans, P.G.H. & Raga, J. A. (ed.), 2001. Marine mammals: biology and conservation New York: Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers

  4. Hewer, H.R. 1974. British Seals. London : Collins

  5. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  6. Kinze, C. C., 2002. Photographic Guide to the Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  7. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.  Accessed 01 April 2017

  8. Nowak, R.M., 2003. Walker's Marine Mammals of the World. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

  9. OBIS,  2017. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2017-11-21

  10. Shetland Sea Mammal Group 2008. Vagrant Seals in Shetland. www.nature-shetland.co.uk/seamammal/rareseals.htm, 2008-03-13

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Pusa hispida Ringed seal. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/124

Last Updated: 02/06/2008