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The Ringed Seal is the smallest species in the seal family. They have a small head and a short snout. Ringed Seals get their name from the pattern of light rings against a dark background that is visible on its coat. Ringed Seals are the most abundant seals in Arctic waters.

Weight: Adults, 50 to 70 kg (110 to 154 lb). Length: Adults, average 1.5 m (5 ft).              

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Ringed Seals are found in ocean waters around the North Pole, including all seas of the Arctic Ocean.

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Ringed Seal habitat is strongly linked to the sea ice. Ringed Seals live in Arctic waters near ice floes and pack ice. They create a breathing hole in the ice, which lets them use the ice year-round to raise pups, rest and moult. They use the claws on their flippers to scrape away ice to keep breathing holes open. 

Female Ringed Seals can give birth to a single pup per year in March or April. In winter and spring, breeding females prefer stable, landfast ice with good snow coverage, such as pressure ridges, bays and coastlines. Pups are born in snow lairs that provide important protection from the environment and predators. Stable ice and adequate snow depth are critical during this time. In the spring, Ringed Seals haul themselves out on the sea ice to moult and bask in the sun. 

During the open water season, seals move around and feed to build up their blubber reserves. Ringed Seals eat a variety of prey, including fish, shrimp, and other crustaceans. 

Ringed Seals are an important traditional source of food, fuel, and pelts (furs) for Inuvialuit. Ringed Seals are the main prey for Polar Bears and important prey for Arctic Foxes.

It is difficult to determine population trends for Ringed Seals. They are still abundant, and there are about 2.3 million Ringed Seals in Canada and nearby waters. However, their habitat is changing rapidly. The Arctic has undergone substantial climatic change since the late 1970s. The extent and thickness of Arctic sea have decreased while the ice-free season has lengthened. 

Habitat change due to climate change is the most serious long term threat to Ringed Seals, including substantial reductions in sea ice and snow cover.

Opportunities for activities like shipping, tourism and industrial development are increasing with the longer ice-free season. These can lead to disturbance, disease, habitat change and pollution.  

In 2019, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) assessed Ringed Seal as a species of Special Concern in Canada.