Marine Mammals & Sea Ice


Temporal and true arctic species of marine mammals inhabit Greenlandic waters. Since these are air-breathing creatures, sea ice is important in defining their distributional patterns. However, sea ice is more complex than a mere lid on the surface of the water. Some marine mammals depend on the sea ice for mating and pupping, others move more effortlessly though it, breaking meters of ice when surfacing to breathe; some live in the cracks and crevices of the thick mid-winter sea ice, and some live at the edge of the sea ice and cannot survive a fast freeze over the area.

We use passive acoustics and satellite telemetry to study the movements of marine mammals in relation to sea ice.

A bearded seal resting on an ice floe. Photo: Aqqalu Rosing-Asvid

Acoustic monitoring has been used to show that fin whales are found in Greenland waters during winter but the extent of the sea ice affect their distribution