Ringed seal (Pusa hispida) on ice., William Halliday
Ringed seal (Pusa hispida) on ice. © William Halliday

Assessing seal diet and health

We are working with Inuit in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to assess seal diets and contaminants as indicators of a changing Arctic ecosystem.

We're looking at the diet and condition of ringed seals (Pusa hispida) and bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) in a long-term monitoring effort. Specifically, we're focused on seals harvested by local hunters for subsistence.

A collaborative effort

This project is made possible through close collaboration:

  • Seal monitors in Ulukhaktok, Paulatuk, and Sachs Harbour, selected by the Hunters and Trappers Committee, work with hunters to obtain seal samples.
  • The Hunters and Trappers Committee ensures proper sample storage and shipping for analysis
  • In Sachs Harbour, we also work with Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Sachs Harbour Hunters and Trappers Committee for seal samples.

a coloring book on seal diet in English and Inuvialuktun, WCS Canada
a coloring book on seal diet in English and Inuvialuktun © WCS Canada

The project so far:

No microplastics found in seal stomachs

Since 2015, we’ve analyzed stomach contents of seals from Ulukhaktok, Paulatuk, and Sachs Harbour. We have not found microplastics.

Communities take part

In each of the three communities, we’ve:

  • conducted training for seal sampling
  • presented our findings at community meetings and conferences
  • shared a coloring book on seal diet in English and Inuvialuktun.