Fun Ribbon Seal Facts For Kids

Sonali Rawat
May 08, 2023 By Sonali Rawat
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Sapna Sinha
Discover amazing ribbon seal facts and related information.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

The ribbon seal (Histriophoca fasciata) is a species of ice seal. It has been spotted in the North Pacific Ocean and also in the Bering Sea, the Okhotsk Sea, Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, and the Chukchi Sea. They prefer to live their lives in a deep ocean with plenty of sea ice, especially during their mating season in winter and spring. Females are known to give birth to only one pup every mating season. It takes about four to six weeks for the pups to become independent and reach the age of weaning. Adults are usually black and have ribbon-like strips on their necks, one around their tail and on each side of their flippers. Seals that have not undergone molting have dark brown bodies.

The diet of ribbon seals includes fish, crustaceans, cephalopods, and other marine animals. Ribbon seals are listed under a Least Concern status. This means that their population is stable they are not in immediate danger. Unfortunately, they can suffer as a result of man-made problems like global warming, oil spills, by-catching, and hunting, especially for the fur coat of pups. The average population of ribbon seals has been estimated to be around 183,000 individuals.

Keep reading to find more exciting information on ribbon seals! If you enjoy reading this, you can also check out related animals like the leopard seal and the harp seal.

Ribbon Seal Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a ribbon seal?

The ribbon seal is a type of marine ice seal found commonly in sub-Arctic and Arctic parts of the North Pacific Ocean.

What class of animal does a ribbon seal belong to?

The ribbon seal is a marine mammal from the Histriophoca genus of the Phocidae family. The scientific name of this ice seal is Histriophoca fasciata.

How many ribbon seals are there in the world?

The population of ribbon seals is estimated to be around 183,000. As a Least Concern status ice seal species, they are not endangered and are not in immediate threat. However, this ice seal species can suffer from habitat changes due to melting polar caps, from by-catching by fisheries, and from oil spills.

Where does a ribbon seal live?

Ribbon seals live in the polar region of the sub-Arctic and Arctic regions of the North Pacific Ocean. Their main habitat locations include the Aleutian Islands in the south, Alaska, the Chukchi Sea, Okhotsk, and the Bering Sea near southern Russia as well as north of Japan and Korea.

What is a ribbon seal's habitat?

Ribbon seals prefer to live their lives in deep, icy cold waters or seas in polar regions and it is rare to see them on land. They live in deep seas where the ice is clean, thick, and found in smaller pieces rather than the large masses found on the surfaces. Ribbon seals are often found close to a food source and can dive up to 656 ft (200 m) in search of food or marine animals.

Who does a ribbon seal live with?

Ribbon seals are usually solitary animals and hunt for food alone. On other occasions and during the breeding season, they can also be found in small groups. This method of creating groups can also fend off predators during the breeding season, as predators tend to avoid meddling with a large group of seals.

How long does a ribbon seal live?

The average life expectancy of ribbon seals can range from 25-30 years. They live a long life in the wild if left undisturbed.

How do they reproduce?

Ribbon seals mate in rookeries or colonies of mating seals on sea ice. They are a polygamous species, which means one male seal can have multiple mating partners. Their breeding season can range from late May to June and mating occurs during spring when the ice breaks up. Female ribbon seals have a gestation period of around 11 months and pups are born in pack ice during April. Females give birth to only a single pup and in very rare cases, two (although in this case, one may not survive). Pups become independent after four to six weeks. Males will reach sexual maturity at three to six years of age, while this takes two to five years for females. Winter or spring is considered to be the best time for molting, breeding, and giving birth in this species.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the ribbon seal is Least Concern, which means the population of this species is relatively stable. However, rapid climate change has caused major ice melting and these mammals have been losing reliable breeding grounds. Oil spills, by-catching, and the annual harvest are also some other reasons for the decrease in the population and life expectancy of these seals.

Ribbon Seal Fun Facts

What do ribbon seals look like?

Males are usually larger than females. Ribbon seals have a cylindrical-shaped body with 4-5 in (10-12 cm) wide four fur strips around their neck, back, and front half. These strips will not be distinct unless the seal has undergone molting. The color of the body of this species changes according to their age. Adult males are dark brown, after which they shed or molt and their fur coat turns black. The ribbon markings are visible in females. Ribbon seal pups have white fur when born and it turns dark blue-gray after three to six weeks.

A ribbon seal on a slab of snow-covered, icy water surface..

How cute are they?

Ribbon seals are very cute! The ribbon-like stripes on their bodies give this ice seal species a very unique appearance and their adorable face with whiskers gives an impression of a sea cat!

How do they communicate?

Ribbon seals can communicate using vibrations in the water and this is how they locate prey. They can also communicate using vocal sounds; these are used especially during hunting or mating. Their vision is more suitable for underwater hunting than for sensing danger on land.

How big is a ribbon seal?

Adult ribbon seals can grow up to 57-61 in (145-155 cm) in size, with a maximum length of 65-69 in (165 to 175 cm). Newborn pups are about 28.7-38.5 in (73-98 cm) in size and juvenile seals range from 50-52.7 in (128 to 134 cm) in length. An adult ribbon seal can be five times the size of a pink salmon fish!

How fast can a ribbon seal move?

There are no studies on the exact speed of a ribbon seal, but they are assumed to be a fast species while swimming.

How much does a ribbon seal weigh?

The average weight of an adult ribbon seal will range from 121-198 lb (55-90 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Males are known as bulls while females are called cows. A group of ice seals is known as a herd, rookery, or colony.

What would you call a baby ribbon seal?

Baby ribbon seals are called pups or juveniles.

What do they eat?

The diet of ribbon seals mainly includes crustaceans, fish, cephalopods, and other marine animals. They can dive underwater in search of shrimps, walleye pollock, magistrate arm hook squid, eelpouts, Arctic cod, and octopus. The main predators of this species are polar bears, walruses, killer whales, and Pacific sleeper sharks.

Are they poisonous?

Ribbon seals are not poisonous species and are not harmful to humans. On the other hand, they may be in danger as a result of human activities and hunting.

Would they make a good pet?

Ribbon seals have friendly behavior and let humans approach them more often than other seals. While they are adorable, these ice seals are not suited for a life outside of their natural habitat. They also have a demanding diet and can eat about 20 lb (9 kg) of marine animals in one day!

Did you know...

Ribbon seals can stay underwater for 30 minutes. They also indulge in a behavior known as feigning death, where they pretend to be dead to trick intruders.

Are ribbon seals endangered?

Ribbon seals are not an endangered species. The IUCN Red List has listed this species as Least Concern and the species has about 183,000 living individuals. While their population trend is not known, their numbers may be decreasing over the years due to climate change. If the climate model predictions for the future are correct, this species may soon reach an endangered status.

Why do ribbon seals have stripes?

It is assumed that ribbon seals have stipes to make them less visible to underwater predators while diving for food.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Amazon River dolphin facts and Beluga whale facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable ribbon seal coloring pages.

Ribbon seal Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Fish and crustaceans

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

121-198 lb (55-90 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?


Where Do They Live?

the arctic

How Long Were They?

57-69 in (145-175 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Histriophoca fasciata

What Do They Look Like?

Black and white

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

climate change

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Sonali Rawat

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature, Masters of Art specializing in English and Communication Skills

Sonali Rawat picture

Sonali RawatBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature, Masters of Art specializing in English and Communication Skills

Sonali has a Bachelor's degree in English literature from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and is currently pursuing a Master's in English and Communication from Christ University. With considerable experience in writing about lifestyle topics, including travel and health, she has a passion for Japanese culture, especially fashion, and anime, and has written on the subject before. Sonali has event managed a creative-writing festival and coordinated a student magazine at her university. Her favorite authors are Toni Morrison and Anita Desai.

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