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Federal government lists 2 ice seals as threatened

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Posted: Friday, December 21, 2012 10:28 am

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The main prey of polar bears has been declared a threatened species because of diminishing sea ice due to climate warming.

The National Marine Fisheries Service on Friday declared ringed seals as a threatened species, joining polar bears on the list.

The agency also placed a second ice-dependent seal, bearded seals, on the list.

Ringed seals are the only seals that thrive under completely ice-covered Arctic waters. They use stout claws to dig and maintain breathing holes.

Females give birth in snow lairs to pups that are susceptible to freezing until they grow a blubber layer.

Bearded seals give birth and rear pups on drifting pack ice.

Sea ice this year reached record low levels.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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