Harbor Seals

Jason Ching/University of Washington

The elusive seals that reside in Bristol Bay’s Iliamna Lake have long been a mystery. While wildlife managers treat them the same as marine harbor seals, a new study supports what traditional knowledge has long held – that they are a distinct, freshwater population.

Mysterious harbor seals are the latest point of contention in the Pebble mine debate as the government considers the possibility of listing Iliamna Lake Harbor Seals on the Endangered Species list. This comes after an environmental group put forth a petition urging the listing. They cite threats from ocean acidification, climate change, and the proposed Pebble Mine.  KDLG’s Ben Matheson has more on the freshwater seals at the center of the debate.

NOAA Fisheries

The Federal Government is starting the process to determine if the harbor seals that call Iliamna Lake home should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. On Thursday NOAA Fisheries announced that a status review will be undertaken to determine if the Iliamna Lake seals are a distinct population segment of the Pacific harbor seal. The review will also look at whether or not the seals should be listed as threatened or endangered.