Two Ice Seals Listed Under Endangered Species Act

First Posted: Dec 22, 2012 05:04 AM EST

Joining the polar bears on the list of threatened species are two types of ice seals which will now be protected under the Endangered Species Act .

The two ice seals are victims of global warming. The alarming rate at which the sea ice is melting has caused a great decline in their Arctic habitat.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the ringed seals and bearded seals as threatened population, according to the Alaska Dispatch. The polar bears also were  listed in 2008 due to the climatic conditions.

The ringed seals have a small head and silver rings on their back. They are the smallest ice seals and most common in the Arctic. They are the primary preys of polar bears. Whereas, the bearded seals that are known for their thick whiskers, are circumpolar in distribution that extends from the Arctic Ocean south to Hokkaido in the Western Pacific.

According to the NOAA officials, these seals greatly depend on sea ice and snow. And the drastic climate change is reducing the ice cover in the Arctic region especially during the non winter months.

Jon Kurland, protected resources director for the Alaska region of NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service was quoted in Chicago Tribune stating, "Our scientists undertook an extensive review of the best scientific and commercial data. They concluded that a significant decrease in sea ice is probable later this century and that these changes will likely cause these seal populations to decline."

The listing was a result of litigation and petition from an environmental organization, the Center for Biological Diversity.

Obama administration has acknowledged the threat.

Shaye Wolf, the center's climate science director was quoted in Reuters saying, "The Obama administration has to take decisive action, right now, against greenhouse gas pollution to preserve a world filled with ice seals, walruses and polar bears."

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