06 Jan 2012:
Seal Populations Plummet as
North Atlantic Sea Ice Thins, Study Says
A new study says that thinning sea ice in the north Atlantic has caused a catastrophic decline in harp seal populations
, a trend animal advocacy groups say should spur an end to commercial hunts of the animal
in Canada. According to the study, conducted by scientists at Duke University and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, sea ice cover in all harp seal breeding regions has declined by as much as 6 percent per decade since 1979. Since female seal pups depend on stable winter ice to give birth and nurse their young, these changing conditions have produced a higher seal mortality, said David Johnston of the Duke University Marine Laboratory and lead author of the study, which was published in the journal PLoS ONE
. “Entire year classes may be disappearing from the population in low ice years” Johnston said. “Essentially all of the pups die.” According to Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans department, as many as 80 percent of seal pups born in 2011 may have died because of a lack of sea ice.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
e360 on Facebook
Donate to e360
View mobile site
Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our feed:
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Peter Essick documents the swift changes wrought by global warming in Antarctica, Greenland, and other far-flung places. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video that chronicles the story of a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant, was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
In a Yale Environment 360
video, photographer Pete McBride documents how increasing water demands have transformed the Colorado River, the lifeblood of the arid Southwest. Watch the video.