Ribbon Seal

Ribbon Seal

Ribbon Seal

Ribbon Seal Range Map (Arctic & Subarctic Regions)
Ribbon Seal Range Map
(Arctic & Subarctic Regions)
Blue - Summer Range; Pink - Other
Latin Name Histriophoca fasciata
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location Arctic & Subarctic regions of the North Pacific Ocean
Colour Black with White Markings
Length Up to 1.6 m (Up to 5.2 ft)
Weight Up to 95 Kgs (Up to 210 lbs)
Life Expectancy

20 - 25 Yrs

Main Characteristics

Ribbon Seals get their common name from their distinctive markings. They are coloured black or dark grey and they have four light coloured ribbon-like markings. They have a strip around their neck, one around their tail and a circular marking on each side of their body which encloses their front flippers. The markings on males are quite strong whereas on females they are less conspicuous.

They can reach up to 1.6 m (5.2 ft) in length and they can weigh up to 95 kgs (210 lbs). Ribbon Seals have an unusual motion on the ice compared to other seals. They slither along using side-to-side motions to propel themselves rather than inching forward with their front flippers like other seals do.

They have a large inflatable air sac connected to their trachea. It is larger in males than in females and its function is unknown, although it is thought it could be used to produce underwater vocalizations.


Ribbon Seals are found in the Arctic and Subarctic regions of the North Pacific Ocean, particularly in the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. They are solitary and during the summer they can be found in the open oceans but in winter and spring they forage and raise young on coastal ice flows.


Ribbon Seals mainly eat fish but they also feed on squid, shrimp and crabs. They make dives to depths of 200 m (656 ft) in search of food.


Ribbon Seals give birth to one pup on an ice flow during April or May each year. At birth the pup is covered in dense, white fur and it is fed on its mother's fat-rich milk for 4 weeks, during which time it doubles in size.

They are weaned at 4 weeks old but they remain on the ice for a few more weeks. During this period they lose a large amount of weight and their white fur is replaced with a blue/grey coat. Soon after this they are able to enter the ocean, dive and hunt for themselves.

During their second year their distinctive ribbon-like markings begin to develop. Female Ribbon Seals reach sexual maturity at 2 - 5 years and males at 3 - 6 years of age.


Predators of Ribbon Seals include killer whales, greenland sharks and polar bears.


Ribbon Seals have no subspecies

Interesting Facts

Ribbon Seals can stay submerged underwater for up to 30 minutes.

Similar Animals

Common Seal
Ringed Seal
Grey Seal
Baikal Seal
Caspian Seal
Harp Seal
Spotted Seal


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