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
Before 1800 there were an estimated 10–20,000 Whooping Cranes in North America. By 1941, because of hunting and habitat destruction, there were fewer than 20. There are now approximately 350–380 in the wild. The wild Whooping Crane population has only one winter habitat—a wildlife refuge on the Gulf Coast in Texas; and one spring breeding habitat—a prairie wetlands in Alberta. Severe storms, sea level rise, drought, industrial development and oil spills threaten these habitats. Another significant threat to young Whooping Cranes is colliding with power lines in their migration corridor.
The Bramble Cay Melomys was the first species to be declared extinct because of climate change. Sea level rise and storm surges washed away its habitat, food and the last of the population. In 2014 scientists went searching in the hopes of starting a breeding program but were unable to find a pair. Other sea birds and turtles that live on the Cay are also threatened by storm surges and sea level rise.
For decades wild salmon populations have been in decline from human causes: over fishing; habitat degradation—logging, mining, agriculture and dams; pollution; and interaction with hatchery or farmed salmon. These conditions and threats may hinder their ability to adapt to the effects of climate change. Salmon thrive at specific freshwater temperatures—warming air raises water temperature. Early snow melt and increased rains cause physical changes to spawning streams.
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.