Bearded seal

Bearded seal

Bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus)

Bearded seals are very rare visitors to Iceland. The ones that do visit Icelandic waters usually travel alone and are mostly young animals. Since these seals are not easily spooked, they were easy prey for hunters. Adults are larger than harbour seals but smaller than grey seals. Its most distinctive feature is the very long whiskers that give the species its name.

The diet of the bearded seal consists of fish and invertebrates found on or near the seafloor. Unlike the ringed seal, it does not maintain a breathing hole through pack ice.

The bearded seal is distributed throughout the Arctic, but not on the North pole itself. The bearded seal population is relatively large, estimated at around 1 million animals.

Most sightings have been reported from the north and east of Iceland, but the seal has also been found in Elliðaár, a river on the eastern side of Reykjavík.