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
Koalas live in the woodlands of Australia. Thick fur and skin make it difficult for them to adapt to rising temperatures. Increased CO2 in the air produces less protein in the eucalyptus leaves, forcing the Koala to search for other sources of food and, in times of high heat, water. On the ground, the slow moving Koalas are prey to wild dingoes and domestic dogs, or are hit by cars as they cross roads. Their habitats are also being destroyed by drought, bush fires and development.
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.
Since 1960, the average summer temperature in Glacier National Park has increased by around 1 °C and glaciers have declined by 35%. By counting Stoneflies, scientists can determine how quickly glaciers are melting and the temperature of streams. In a two year search begun in 2011, scientists found the Stonefly in only one of the six streams it had previously occupied and discovered that it had retreated to two different streams at higher altitudes. Satellite data confirm that the world’s glaciers are declining, affecting the availability of fresh water for humans, animals and plants, and contributing to sea level rise.
Ivory Gulls are almost entirely dependent on sea ice and glaciers for nesting and food foraging. They feed on fish and shellfish that thrive near the edge of the ice, and on the remains of seals left by Polar Bears. Seal blubber is a source of heavy contaminants—Ivory Gull eggs show a higher concentration of mercury and pesticides than any Arctic sea bird. Other threats are illegal hunting and disturbance from diamond mining in the Canadian Arctic.