Harp seal Pups Struggle to Survive

Harp seal pups — with their beady eyes and soft, pillowy fur — are tremendously adorable. Yet new heartbreaking images show the pups in danger, stranded on beaches as sea ice failed to form after an unprecedentedly warm winter.

National Geographic traveled to Gulf of St. Lawrence, where a population of harp seals migrates south from the Canadian Arctic and Greenland to give birth on the sea ice every March.

Its team captured images of the pups struggling to climb onto ice chunks and stranded on dangerous, predator-filled beaches.

Global warming is thwarting ice formation, and sea ice cover in the gulf is at its lowest since 1969, according to NatGeo. Satellite images of the Gulf of St. Lawrence taken in 2008 are starkly different from this year’s. Normally, over 90,000 square miles of ice covers the cold body of water, but 2021 images appear to show the gulf ice-free.

As ice dissolves into slush, these pups are in danger of drowning, being crushed by large ice chunks or being eaten by predators.

Screen Shot 2021 03 21 at 1 09 54 PM

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