Observation by Tisha Kalmakoff:
This breed of seal is not usually born or sighted in Port Heiden. It had longer hair, and rounder eyes, and a different head position than the seals normally found here. Seals in this area have shorter, coarse hair. It was found alone, no sign of its mother, and was shedding hair typical for pups after weaning. Maybe it got lost on its way to the normal pupping grounds.
Comments from LEO Editors:
This observation occurred in April of 2011 but was submitted to LEO Network in December 2017. Incidentally, the timing of the stranding occurred just prior to the beginning of a large ice seal mortality event, which resulted in hundreds of stranded and or dead seals around the circumpolar north. There is no known connection between the pup and that event. LEO Network did begin to receive an increase in ice seal related posts through the summer and fall of 2011. A brief discussion of this event can be found at NOAA.This observation has been forwarded to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for species identification and habitat information.
Alaska Division of Fish and Game Consult:
Lori Quakenbush, Arctic Marine Mammal Program, writes, It is hard to say from these pictures if it is a ringed or spotted seal. I can’t see the claws or tell how big it is. (Whether the Northern Alaska Peninsula would be within the species range for these seals?) It is for a spotted seal, less so for a ringed. A pup that age should be with the ice so it got separated somehow and found its way to shore.
Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network – Please let us know if you see injured, entangled or dead whales, seals or sea lions in the water or on the beach. The most important information to collect is the date, location of stranding (including latitude and longitude), number of animals, and species. Please don't move or touch the animal. Contact Information
NOTE: If the stranded animal is a walrus, sea otter, or polar bear, call the Marine Mammals Management Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage (1-800-362-5148 FREE, business hours) or the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward (1-888-774-7325, 24-hrs).
Marine Mammal Entanglement and Marine Debris – Marine debris adversely impacts at least 260 marine species, including marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds. Marine debris is any man-made object discarded, disposed of, or abandoned that enters the marine environment.