Researchers at Duke University who are studying loss of sea ice in the North Atlantic and harp seals have found a dramatic drop in harp seal pups. They say a decline in sea ice, where harp seals live and breed is causing the loss of entire generations of new harp seal pups.
The Northeast Atlantic stock of harp seals which breeds off the coast of Greenland has declined by 85-90% in the last 40-60 years. One of the main for the dramatic drop is a decline in a sea ice in the breeding habitats for harp seals since 1979. Sea-ice cover is declining at a rate of about six per cent per decade in all four harp seal breeding grounds, the researchers found.
Overall harp seals are in a stable enough population size with about three million to five million, but if their sea ice continues to decline, they might be faced with a dire situation. Consider also at the same time sea ice is being lost, harp seals are hunted commercially each year by Canada, Norway, Russia and Greenland.
“Harp seals aren’t endangered right now, so we’re not worried they’re going to disappear off the face of the earth . . . but we’re all concerned about what’s happening with climate change, so it’s important to try and anticipate what’s in store for these animals over time,” said David Johnston one of the Duke researchers. (Source: Vancouver Sun)
They also say they need to conduct further research to bring more clarity to the various causes of harp seal mortality and harp seal pup losses.
If you are concerned about climate change, you might want to know livestock agriculture is one of the main human-related contributors to the very damaging phenomenon, meaning reducing one’s meat consumption can also help to reduce climate change emissions.