Russian harp seals avert mass starvation


IQALUIT — According to Russian researchers, between 250,000 and 400,000 baby harp seal pups could have died in the Barents Sea if temperatures hadn’t recently warmed up.

Many may still die of starvation because the ice floes, which usually carry them to their spring feeding grounds, got a late start. The baby seals usually drift on pack ice out of the White Sea towards the Barents Sea in early March, but this year an ice jam blocked their passage.

A plan to rescue 5,000 pups on a boat was scuttled due to the sudden movement of the ice floes towards richer feeding grounds.

In 1966, 60 per cent of Russia’s harp seal population died when similar circumstances kept pups trapped on the ice.

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