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A true-blue Baltic native

The ringed seal is a prevalent Arctic resident and the region’s most abundant seal species with a population estimated to number in the millions. Around 10,000 years ago, however, a far less numerous subspecies developed in the northern Baltic Sea and remains there to this day: the Baltic ringed seal. Today, only around 10,000 individuals live in the wintry, icy regions of the inland sea. This makes the populations in the Bothnian Bay, the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Riga the original, traditional inhabitants of the Baltic Sea. Their concentration on these territorial areas alone, however, already marks these seals out as “vagrants” in our region here in the southern Baltic Sea. Individual animals rarely travel so deep into the south.

An essential condition of life for the ringed seal is sea ice. A large expanse of sea ice is particularly necessary for the birth and rearing of young, a period lasting three months. It is there where newborn pups grow up in sheltered ice caves. But their typical white fur can only protect them against temperatures up to -25 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees Fahrenheit) and only in dry conditions. When wet, this critical temperature rises to 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). The impending decline of these ice sheets due to global warming represents an existential threat for the Baltic ringed seal, something that is also presented in the OZEANEUM’s Baltic Sea exhibit.

The exhibit there features a real Baltic ringed seal that was rescued by Finnish scientists as a by-catch and given to the German Oceanographic Museum. The model was made in the Stralsund model workshop.

Details

  • Title: Ringed seals have a round head shape
  • Location: Ozeaneum Stralsund, Stiftung Deutsches Meeresmuseum
  • Rights: photo: Johannes-Maria Schlorke

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