Saimaa seals, like other ringed seals, are short and stocky. Both males and females reach about 5 feet (1.5 m) long and 240 pounds (110 kg). Saimaa seals tend to be darker than other ringed seals. They are a dark gray or even black on their backs, with signature white or light gray rings. Their undersides are a pale cream or light gray color and have fewer, if any, rings.
Pups are born generally in March or April about one month before mating begins again. Adult males and females appear to form familial bonds during each breeding season, though males may mate with different females in different years. Their lifespan is around 25-30 years.
Their diet consists mainly of fish.
|240 pounds (110 kg)|
|5 feet (1.5 m)|
|short and stocky, dark gray or black, with signature white or light gray rings, with gray or cream colored undersides|
|about 25-30 years|
|form familial bonds during each breeding season, though males may mate with different females in different years|
Unlike most other ringed seal species, Saimaa seals are found only in freshwater. Female Saimaa seals build lairs in snowdrifts near the shoreline rocks of the lake during breeding season.
Saimaa seals are found only in Lake Saimaa in eastern Finland.
There are less than 300 Saimaa seals.
- interactions with fisheries
- incidental capture in fisheries–except when fisheries are prohibited during breeding season–still occurs
Saimaa seals are protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972. Specialnational parks in Finland have been set up in and around Lake Saimaa to help protect the seals.
The Saimaa seal has been protected under Finnish law since 1955. The Saimaa seal was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1993.
The saimaa seal is a subspecies of the ringed seal (Phoca hispida).
- Shirihai, H. and B. Jarrett (2006). Whales, Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals of the World. Princeton, Princeton University Press.
- The Saimaa seal only exists in the Saimaa Lake system of eastern Finland, with only 270 individuals remaining in the wild.
- Females dig their lairs in snow drifts and create a hole in the ice below through which to enter and exit for fishing.
- The primary threat to the population is entrapment of young seals in fishing nets and collapse of lairs.