Record number of Saimaa seal pups born

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A researcher plunges into the entry to an abandoned Saimaa ringed seal nest. Photo: Miina Auttila/Metsähallitus
A researcher plunges into the entry to an abandoned Saimaa ringed seal nest. Photo: Miina Auttila/Metsähallitus

A record number of Saimaa ringed seal pups have been born this spring. A review conducted by the state-owned forestry organisation Metsähallitus counted a total of 79 seal pups, though four of them were found dead.

Despite this, Metsähallitus considers the count a positive surprise, and evidence for the fact that government measures to protect the rare Saimaa seal have been successful. The places where the seal pups were discovered shows that the species is returning back to its original habitat, says conservation biologist Jouni Koskela.

Metsähallitus says that the number of pups has been affected by the geographical extension of the net fishing ban of 2011, which has reduced pup deaths, leading to a rise in population. Preventing early-stage deaths by delimiting net fishing is considered essential to the continuation of the Saimaa seal species.

Last year 71 pups were estimated to have been born, with more than 60 born the two preceding years.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Nunavut hunters seeing fewer ringed seals in Canada’s eastern Arctic, CBC News

Finland:  Snow cannon to help Saimaa seals build dens, Yle News

Iceland: Endangered whale meat shipped from Iceland via Halifax, The Canadian Press

Norway: Rapid growth in Svalbard walrus population, Barents Observer

Sweden: Rare dolphin spotted on Sweden’s west coast, Radio Sweden

United States:  Biologists spot huge gathering of walruses in Arctic Alaska, Alaska Dispatch

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