According to the latest report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the near total ice melt in some parts of the Baltic, especially the gulfs of Bothnia and Riga, and the Åland archipelago, threatens the survival of the newborn seals there.
The Gulf of Bothnia, located between Sweden and Finland, is the northernmost region of the Baltic. The Gulf of Riga is found between Latvia and Estonia. The archipelago of Åland, part of Finland, is made up of 6,500 islands, also set between Sweden and Finland.
“Ringed seals give birth in mid-February and raise their pups in the first seven or eight weeks in caves formed on floating ice, while the pups put on enough fat to survive the icy ocean waters,” the WWF’s Baltic Sea biodiversity expert, Cathrin Münster, told Tierramérica.
“The lack of ice around the Åland islands and in the Gulf of Riga means that the seals born this winter don’t have that protection and surely will not survive,” she added.
With a weakened or insufficient ice field to sustain them, the seal pups are forced to swim in the frigid waters without the vital protection of a layer of fat, and they die of hypothermia and malnutrition.
Less than a year later :
This winter, the Baltic Sea is freezing over very early due to record cold temperatures. Once again, WWF demonstrates that they have no skill at forecasting climate.