After 20 years in the Arctic, this is my first decent picture of a Ringed Seal on the sea ice. I do have photos of them swimming and one series of one on a small piece of glacier ice, but none on sea ice. Which is strange as it’s one of the most common seals in the area and I see them every trip. For Polar Bears, it even is their main prey species. Especially in springtime, when the Ringed Seals have their pups, Polar Bears eat nothing else. It is said that during those few weeks, they may consume up to 2/3s of the fat they need in a year.
This is also the reason that we rarely see Ringed Seals up close on the ice. They are just too scared, and with any sign of danger, they dive into the water. Bearded Seals are different. They are larger and know they have a better chance of survival against a Polar Bear, or maybe they just see the difference better between a ship and a bear. With Bearded Seals, we often manage to come really close, something I never achieved with a Ringed Seal.
Until this one. Well, it was still not really close, but good enough for some beautiful pictures. Strangely enough, there was a Polar Bear on a floe nearby, but apparently, he wasn’t interested in the seal.