Saimaa seal population believed to have grown in Finland

Finland is considering restrictions on things like lakeside cottage construction in an effort to protect the endangered saimaa seal. (iStock)
A view of Finland’s Lake Saimaa. Researchers believe there has been a small increase in the region’s endangered Saimaa seal population over the last year. (iStock)
Mild weather and melting ice cover disrupted the spring count, but more pups may have been born than the year before.

Researchers at Finland’s state forest, parks and wildlife agency Metsähallitus believe that there has been an uptick in the population of Saimaa ringed seals, a highly endangered fresh-water species found in the county’s eastern lake district.

Metsähallitus bases its estimate on observations made during annual surveys of the dens that seals carve out in snowbanks on frozen lakes to birth their young.

The group reports that the time for the 2019-2020 count was shorter than usual due to the rapid melting of the ice, and it is likely that not all nesting sites were discovered.

Estimated two dozen pups

The total population of Saimaa ringed seals is estimated at 420-430 individuals. The number of pups that were born and survived last winter is estimated at about 15-20.

Lake Saimaa froze later than usual last winter and there were fewer snowbanks where seals could dig their winter dens.

Especially in areas with strong currents and south of the city of Savonlinna, a large part of the ringed seal population wintered without a den.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Nunavut ringed seals a species of concern wildlife advisers say, CBC News

Finland: Finland’s endangered Saimaa ringed seal population reaches 400, Yle News

Greenland: Oldest Arctic sea ice vanishes twice as fast as rest of region, study shows, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: In Arctic Norway, seabirds build nests out of plastic waste, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian Arctic town overrun by polar bears, CBC News

Sweden: Warnings in Sweden about dangerous bacteria in Baltic Sea, Radio Sweden

United States: Heat stress that caused Alaska salmon deaths a sign of things to come, scientist warns, CBC News

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