Associated with moving pack (sea) ice; prefers relatively shallow waters (less than 130 m) due to benthic feeding habits (NatureServe 2007b). Pups are born on surface of ice. Stable ice not necessary (Frost, personal communication), but tends to avoid shorefast ice ad thick, unbroken drift ice (Wynne 1993). Bearded seals in some parts of their range occupy areas that are ice free (e.g. Anadyr region of Russia; Frost, personal communication). During summer and spring molt, haul out on gravel beaches. During winter, may make breathing holes in fast ice bordering high arctic polynyas (Burns 1981, Reeves et al. 1992).
Burns, J. J. 1981. Bearded seal. Pages 145-170 In Handbook of Marine Mammals (Ridgway, S. H. and R. J. Harrison, eds.). Vol. 2. Academic Press, NY.
NatureServe. 2007b. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 6.2. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://www.natureserve.org/explorer.
Reeves, R. R., B. S. Stewart, and S. Leatherwood. 1992. The Sierra Club Handbook of Seals and Sirenians. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, California. xvi + 359 pp.
Wynne, K. 1993. Guide to marine mammals of Alaska. Alaska Sea Grant College Program, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. 75 p.