Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
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Histriophoca fasciata

Ribbon Seal

Order: Carnivora
Family: Phocidae

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Image of Histriophoca fasciata
Phoca fasciata - male, upper image; female, lower image
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Conservation Status: Data Deficient.

Ribbon seals are rarely seen on land. In late winter and spring they are on pack ice, 100-200 km offshore, where they molt, mate, and pup. They are probably far out in northern seas the rest of the year, feeding on fish such as pollock, cod, eelpout, and capelin, supplemented with squid, octopus, and shrimp. Ribbon seals have a large inflatable air sac that is connected to the windpipe and extends on the right side over the ribs. Larger in males, it may be to produce underwater vocalizations, perhaps for mating communication. Biologists believe these and many other seals have extensive social interactions underwater. Their "ribbons" are white or yellowish bands on the neck, flippers, and body that contrast with their otherwise dark fur.

Also known as:
Banded Seal

Range: 1.6-1.7 m

Range: 70-80 kg


Zimmermann, E.A.W., 1783.  Geographische Geschichte des Menschen, und der allgemein verbreiteten vierfüssigen Thiere, nebst einer hieher gehörigen zoologischen Weltcharte, Dritter Band. Weygandschen Buchhandlung, Leipzig, (3rd volume) p. 277.


Mammal Species of the World

Distribution of Histriophoca fasciata

Image of Histriophoca fasciata
Click to enlarge. (32kb)