German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Ringed Seal spotted from Isle of Vilm

An infrequent guest: Ringed Seal spotted from Isle of Vilm

Foto: Ralf Grunewald
Seehund (rechts) und Ringelrobbe (links) unterhalb des Kochufers/Insel Vilm, Foto: Ralf Grunewald


Vilm, 27.04.2017 During the course of several weeks in January a Ringed Seal (Pusa hispida ssp. botnica) could be observed by guests and staff at the coast of Isle of Vilm. The seal used several different boulders below the nautical landmark on the northeastern coast of the island to rest on. It seemed vital with no signs of malnutrition. The first sighting took place on the 6th of January and the last sighting occurred on the 26th of April.

There is a resident population of Grey Seals in the Greifswald Lagoon and the area also belongs to the natural range of Common Seals. However, Ringed Seals in the Baltic are normally restricted to the Bothnian and Finnish Bight and have been classified as a separate subspecies – the Baltic Ringed Seal. Their pups are being born in small snow burrows dug out by the females on top of sea ice between February and March. The range of the population is strongly tied to the occurrence of such ice and snow layers, prerequisites for which are only given in the northern parts of the Baltic. Sightings in the southern Baltic are therefore very rare and occur only every few years. The dependence on thick and persistent layers of sea ice makes the species very vulnerable to climate change.