2018–2020 Ice Seal Unusual Mortality Event in Alaska
Since June 1, 2018, elevated ice seal strandings have occurred in the Bering and Chukchi seas in Alaska. This event has been declared an Unusual Mortality Event (UME).
Since June 1, 2018, elevated strandings for bearded, ringed and spotted seals have occurred in the Bering and Chukchi seas in Alaska. This event has been declared an Unusual Mortality Event (UME).
Ice Seal Strandings (as of April 15, 2020)
|2018 (June 1-Dec 31)||35||29||20||28||112|
|2020 (as of February 9)||0||1||0||0||1|
Why are Ice Seals Stranding?
We currently do not know why the ice seals are stranding. All age classes of seals have been reported, and a subset of seals have been sampled for genetics and harmful algal bloom exposure, with a few having histopathology collected. Results are pending.
As part of the UME investigation process, NOAA is assembling an independent team of scientists to coordinate with the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events to review the data collected, sample stranded seals, and determine the next steps for the investigation.