Associated with sea ice throughout the year. In winter, occupies landfast and shore ice and, in other seasons, migrate with the advance and retreat of pack ice (Burns 1978). Although the primary breeding habitat of the ringed seal is land-fast ice over the continental shelf along Arctic coasts, bay, and inter-island channels – they are also abundant and have pups in drifting pack ice, both nearshore and offshore (Laidre et al. 2008 and sources therein). Females pup in snow dens in March and April (Eley 1994).
Nonbreeders occur in flow zone and moving pack ice during breeding season; congregate along leads in ice in late spring. In summer all age classes and both sexes occur along edge of permanent ice pack and in near-shore ice remnants. Some, mainly juveniles, occupy ice-free areas through the summer. In most areas pups born in den made under snow by female or in natural snow cave, above breathing hole through ice (Frost and Lowry 1981).
Burns, J. J. 1978. Ice seals. Pp. 193-205, in Marine mammals of eastern North Pacific and Arctic waters (D. Haley, ed.). Pacific Search Press, Seattle.
Eley, T. J., Jr. 1994. Ringed seal. Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Notebook Series. Http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/pubs/notebook/marine/rin-seal.php (accessed 26 March 2007).
Frost, K.J. and L.F. Lowry. 1981. Foods and trophic relationships of cetaceans in the Bering Sea. IN: D.W. Hood and J.A. Calder (eds). Eastern Bering Sea Shelf oceanography and resources. Vol. 2. Univ. of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.
Laidre, K. L., I. Stirling, L. F. Lowry, O. Wiig, M. P. Heide-Jorgensen, and S. H. Fergusen. 2008. Quantifying the sensitivity of Arctic marine mammals to climate-induced habitat change. Ecological Applications, 18(2) supplement, 2008, pp S97-S125.