A Distinctive Large Breeding Population of Ringed Seals (<i>Phoca hispida</i>) Inhabiting the Baffin Bay Pack Ice


  • K.J. Finley
  • G.W. Miller
  • R.A. Davis
  • W.R. Koski




Aerial surveys, Age, Amphipoda, Animal distribution, Animal food, Animal integumentary systems, Animal physiology, Animal population, Animal waste products, Biological sampling, Dentition, Enzymes, Fast ice, Fishes, Genetics, Internal organs, Intestines, Measurement, Nematoda, Pack ice, Parasites, Seals (Animals), Size, Spatial distribution, Wildlife management, Baffin Bay-Davis Strait


Aerial surveys in June and July, 1978 and 1979, documented an unexpectedly large population (at least 417,000) of ringed seals, some with pups, inhabiting the pack ice of Baffin Bay. Pack-ice seals are smaller than their fast-ice counterparts and have a different diet and gut parasite load. Age and productive data, although limited, indicate that the offshore seals are a normal breeding population. Pack-ice seals probably mix with fast-ice seals in coastal areas during the brief open-water season but morphological and ecological differences suggest that the populations are reproductively isolated. This study prompts reconsideration of the importance of offshore pack ice to ringed seals and, therefore, to the coastal hunting economy of Inuit in Greenland and Baffin Island.

Key words: ringer seals, Baffin Bay, pack ice, distribution, population discreteness, management