To some extent climate change has reduced the available prey for food for harp seals, putting further stress on their population. Other threats to the seals are over hunting and over fishing of food sources.
Because Harp seals rely on pack ice as their habitat, climate change can have a big effect on their natural lifestyle. Similar to the problems polar bears face, as the density of the ice declines, it fails to support the weight of these large animals and leads them to seek other resting places. It becomes harder to find ice patches and they end up dying from exhaustion swimming in search of them. Climate change also affects the amount of available prey, such as fish which serve as their food source.
Harp seals populations have experienced significant reductions due to the loss of ice in the Gult of St Lawrence, which is symptomatic of global climate change. This area has seen below-average ice conditions in 9 out of the past 11 years, contributing to recent catastrophic seal infant mortality rates: in 2002, 75% of harp seal pups did not make it to adulthood. Researchers predict that mortality rates could climb to 100% if ice continues to be lost in the present amounts.
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