Diseased Ice Seals
Unusual Mortality Events for ice seals in the Bering and Chukchi Seas
2019 Unusual Mortality Event
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).
2011-2016 Unusual Mortality Event
The UME occurred from May 1, 2011 to December 31, 2016, involving primarily ice seals including ringed (Pusa hispida), bearded (Erignathus barbatus), ribbon (Histriophoca fasciata), and spotted seals (Phoca largha) in northern and western Alaska. The minimum estimate of the total number of impacted seals was 657 seals, which included 233 dead stranded seals, 179 subsistence hunted seals, and 245 live seals that stranded or were sampled during permitted health assessments studies. The investigation identified that clinical signs were likely due to an abnormality of the molt, but a definitive cause for the abnormal molt and the UME was not determined.
Disease Fact Sheets
Disease Outbreak Fliers
- Unusual Mortality Event
- Preliminary Assessment of Radionuclide Exposure
- Public Health Guidance for Contact with Marine Mammals
- Bering Strait Region Disease Flier, Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, November 2011
- Arctic Region Disease Flier, North Slope Borough, August 2011