Ribbon Seal

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Phocidae
  • Genus: Histriophoca
  • Species: fasciata


The ribbon seal is one of nine species of ice seals inhabiting the Arctic and is the merely species in the genus Histriophoca. Ribbon seals living in the southern part of the Okhotsk Sea tend to be bigger and heavier than those living somewhere else


Adult ribbon seals determine, on average, about 5 ft (1.5 m) long and weigh about 175 lbs (80kg). Pups calculate about 3 feet (1 m) at birth and weigh about 25 lbs (11 kg).


Ribbon seals eat about 20 lbs (9 kg) of food each day, mainly feeding on pelagic fish and invertebrates, such as shrimp, crabs, squid, octopus, cod, sculpin, pollack, and capelin


Ribbon seals inhabit the North Pacific Ocean, specially the Bering and Okhotsk Seas, and parts of the Arctic Ocean, with the Chukchi, eastern Siberian, and western Beaufort Seas. They are powerfully associated with sea ice for mating, whelping pups and molting from mid-March during June. Most of the rest of the year is spent at sea; they are rarely seen on land. They seem to prefer fairly thick, stable, new, clean, white ice floes with even surfaces. They also avoid areas of thick ice. When the ice recedes and the breeding and molting seasons come to an end, ribbon seals move northward until the ice gets too thick and then remain in the water for the rest of the year

Population Trends

In the 1960s, the population of ribbon seals in the Bering Sea was condensed from about 120,000 to 70,000. The population size increased back to about 130,000 in 1987 after quotas were set to boundary harvest to about a fourth of the number of seals hunted previously.

In the latest stock assessment (2007), NMFS probable a global population size of 240,000 ribbon seals, 90,000-100,000 of which inhabit the Bering Sea. In the Okhotsk Sea, the average number of ribbon seals was 370,000 between 1968 and 1988. The current population trend is unknown, but recent estimates suggest that no catastrophic declines have occurred in recent decades.