WWF digs safe home for endangered seals | WWF

WWF digs safe home for endangered seals

Posted on
26 January 2017

Volunteers working with WWF and Metsähallitus (Parks & Wildlife Finland) have spent the past few days on the ice of Lake Saimaa in Finland helping an endangered population of freshwater seals to survive. The Lake Saimaa ringed seals need snow to build the lairs where they give birth, but the past few years have not provided deep enough snow cover for those lairs. To compensate, volunteers working with WWF and Metsähallitus have built up snow banks the seals can use.

“There are only 360 of the seals left,” said Liisa Rohweder, CEO of WWF Finland. “without this help, up to half of the pups could die. When we have made these mounds before, almost all of the pups born were in these artificial drifts.”

The first snow banks built for seals were innovated and tested as a part of a research project funded by WWF Finland and carried out by scientists at the University of Eastern Finland.

The plight of the Lake Saimaa seals is a foretaste of what may happen in other parts of the Arctic. The last three years were the warmest on record, and Arctic sea ice continues to shrink in extent and volume, shrinking habitat for life that relies on the ice.

“We really appreciate the help of the volunteers,” added Rohweder, “but we can only take these stop-gap measures for so long. At some point, we have to have a viable long-term plan. This includes taking quick action on climate change, and working out how we best conserve the spaces where ice-dependent populations can persist.”


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For more information contact:
Joonas Fritze
Communications Officer, WWF-Finland
+358 40 840 8500
joonas.fritze@wwf.fi 

Pictures and video
To be used only to promote this release.
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WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

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Saimaa ringed seal.
© Juha Taskinen WWF-Finland
Volunteers make snowbanks for Saimaa ringed seal dens.
© Petteri Tolvanen WWF
Saimaa ringed seal lair late in spring.
© Juha Taskinen WWF-Finland