Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
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Pusa hispida

Ringed Seal

Order: Carnivora
Family: Phocidae

Image of Pusa hispida
Phoca hispida Click to enlarge. (47 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Ringed seals have dark gray or blackish coats with white or pale gray rings splotched across the back and sides. They are the smallest and most common earless seals of the icy northern seas. Unlike other seals, ringed seals use a "lair" for shelter, consisting of one of more chambers built against a ridge of ice or within a snowdrift, with a hole dug through to the water to permit dives for feeding. The seals keep the hole open by scratching at the ice with the strong nails on their foreflippers. Lairs may help protect the seals from predation by polar bears, arctic foxes, and walruses. Ringed seals have traditionally been hunted by native peoples for food, dog food, clothing, and oil. The population in North America waters seems secure, but some subspecies in other parts of their circumpolar distribution are classified as threatened or endangered.

Also known as:
Jae, Silver Jar

Sexual Dimorphism:
Males are slightly larger than females.

Average: 1.3 m
Range: 1-1.5 m

Average: 68 kg
Range: 45-107 kg


Schreber, J.C.D., 1775.  in Schreber's Die Säugthiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen, Wolfgang Walther, Erlangen, 7 volumes, 1774-1846; 2(13):pl. 86[1775]; text, 3(17):312[1776].


Mammal Species of the World

Distribution of Pusa hispida

Image of Pusa hispida
Click to enlarge. (95kb)