Recent Counts of Freshwater Seals in Alaska's Lake Iliamna

January 01, 2009

Poster

Lake Iliamna, a freshwater lake located 362 km (225 mi) southwest of Anchorage, is home to a small breeding colony of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina). Iliamna is the largest lake in Alaska, measuring 124 km (77 mi) long and 35 km (22 mi) wide. These seals are known to live in the lake year round. Although the lake is connected to Bristol Bay via the Kvichak River 120 km (75 mi) in length, there are no known accounts of immigration or emigration. The only other instance of a freshwater population of harbor seals is the subspecies  (P. v. mellonae) that inhabits Lacs des Loups Marin on the Ungava Peninsula of northern Québec, Canada. Worldwide, there are only four other lake-dwelling seals, (all believed to be, or descended from, ringed seals). They inhabit the freshwater Lake Baikal, (P. sibirica); Lake Saimaa  (P. hispida saimensis); Lake Ladoga (P. h. ladogensis) and the saltwater (1.2%) Caspian Sea, (P. caspica).

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David E. Withrow and Kymberly M. Yano. 

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on 03/05/2019

Harbor Seal Harbor Seal Research