Ringed SealLatin name: Pusa Hispida,
Conservsation status: least concern (population is unknown)
Ringed seals are the smallest of all seals and live primarily in the Arctic Ocean. They are able to dive as deep as 300 feet and stay under for up to 45 minutes. They blow bubbles before surfacing to check for Polar Bears, their main predator. The seals use their sharp claws to make breathing holes in the thick ice.
All populations of Ringed Seals are expected to be adversely affected by climate change because of dependence on sea ice and snow dens for breeding, protecting pups, moulting and resting. Early warming causes pups to separate prematurely from their mothers. As sea ice declines, other threats are fisheries by-catch, increased shipping, tourism and development. Seals are vulnerable to disease from heavy concentrations of pollutants that have accumulated in the Arctic food web.
Other animals at risk
In winter, the sun doesn't rise south of the Antarctic Circle. If Antarctic sea ice decreases and does not extend far enough to the north, Adélie Penguins, during their winter migration, may not be able to reach the sunlight needed to navigate, hunt and avoid predators—they won't dive in the dark. Other threats are oil pollution, fishing and disturbance of colonies from research stations and aircraft.
Belugas live in Arctic and Sub-Arctic waters. Impacts from climate change include: an increase in ship traffic as sea ice declines, oil exploration and extraction, fisheries by-catch, and disruption of the food web. As Arctic waters warm and currents change, the Humpback (a competitor) and the Orca (a predator) may move north and stay longer. Some Beluga populations are also threatened by hunting, pollution and habitat loss.
American pikas occupy talus—rock piles that accumulate at the base of a slope—at high elevations in western mountains. Pikas are thought to be a prime example of the potential effects of climate change because they are sensitive to warm temperatures and rely on insulation provided by snow to survive cold winter temperatures. However, several recent studies indicate that pikas can be resilient to each of these factors. Most pikas in the Sierra Nevada survived the winter of 2014, when there was almost no snowpack. Pikas persist in many hot localities as well, demonstrating their ability to cope with high temperatures.
The Narwhal lives mainly in the Atlantic Arctic. Because of specialized habitat, narrow range and limited diet (Arctic cod and halibut), it is one of the Arctic species most vulnerable to climate change. The Narwhal breeds in bays and fjords, moving offshore during winter to areas of heavy ice pack, breathing through the few cracks. Sudden or extreme temperature change can cause these cracks to freeze shut, trapping the whales. Other threats are illegal hunting, industrial activities, and risks from oil development, exploration and shipping in the Arctic.