Saimaa Seal (Phoca hispida saimensis)Status | Taxonomy | Species Description | Habitat | Distribution |
Population Trends | Threats | Conservation Efforts | Regulatory Overview |
Key Documents | More Info
(Phoca hispida saimensis)
Photo: Juha Taskinen
Did You Know?
· The Saimaa seal only exists in the Saimaa Lake system of eastern Finland, with only 270 individuals remaining in the wild.
The saimaa seal is a subspecies of the ringed seal (Phoca hispida).
Saimaa seals, like other ringed seals, are short and stocky. Both males and females reach about 5 ft (1.5 m) long and 240 lbs (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.
Saimaa Seal Range Map
(click for larger view PDF)
Historically, hunting and interactions with fisheries in the lake were a threat to this species. Today, enhanced conservation efforts and protections limit these threats, but 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. Special national 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 of 1973 (ESA) in 1993. They are considered a "depleted" stock under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972.
|ESA Listing Rule||58 FR 40538||07/28/1993|
- Shirihai, H. and B. Jarrett (2006). Whales, Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals of the World. Princeton, Princeton University Press.