Bearded seals prefer shallow, arctic waters less than 200 meters in depth. They also prefer areas heavy with ice floes or pack ice, as these are areas where adults "haul out." They generally segregate, with one adult per ice floe. Bearded seals ride drifting ice floes for great distances, and their "migration" is thus dependent on the season and distribution of ice floes. Bearded seals follow ice further south during the winter and further north during the summer. Riding drifting ice floes provides access to shallow water, in which they feed. However, they avoid ice floes on which walruses are abundant. Bearded seals rarely choose land over ice floes for hauling out. However, in summertime when ice floes are sparse, they have been known to haul out on land and gravel beaches.
Range depth: 200 (high) m.
Habitat Regions: polar ; saltwater or marine
Terrestrial Biomes: icecap
Aquatic Biomes: pelagic ; benthic ; coastal
Other Habitat Features: intertidal or littoral
- Cameron, M., P. Boveng. 2009. "Seasonal Movements, Habitat Selection, Foraging and Haul-out Behavior of Adult Bearded Seals" (On-line). Accessed May 26, 2010 at ftp://ftp.afsc.noaa.gov/posters/pCameron05_adult-bearded-seal-pups.pdf.