Ribbon seal: Well that movie wasn’t scary.
Ringed seal: What?! I’m white as a pup! I won’t get any sleep tonight!
Ribbon seal: But even the title was garbage: “Polar Bear II: Terror of the Tundra”. Is that even a thing?
Ringed seal: Yes! I had nightmares about them when I was little.
Ribbon seal: Pfft. “Greenland Shark: Death from Below” was way scarier. Maybe I couldn’t see what was going on. My eyesight isn’t great.
Ringed seal: We were in the front row. Ugh. URGH that made it worse when it started digging up the ice den-
Ribbon seal: But that was stupid. Why live there?
Ringed seal: What do you mean?
Ribbon seal: They should have been on thin ice. You know, out on the ocean. So when it tried to walk over to them, CRACK. Then, PSHOO! Quick underwater getaway! Or a deep dive, like in summer.
Ringed seal: I see. This is the bit where you say you’re so much smarter than the characters in horror films.
Ribbon seal: Well, it was dumb.
Ringed seal: No it wasn’t! Polar bears were always trying to dig me out when I was a pup. I can’t believe your mum left you out in the open.
Ribbon seal: Hey you leave my mum out of this. And so what if she did? Nothing ate me. Let her live a bit. After 6 weeks of feeding duty I’d need a booty call.
Ringed seal: But what if something had come along? Like that polar bear, ugh.
Ribbon seal: Like I said. Ice would have broken.
Ringed seal: But what if you were on thicker ice, or it was a fox or something? They’re pretty light.
Ribbon seal: Well, I’ve got two plans. Plan A, I run away on the ice-
Ringed seal: No you couldn’t!! No way you’d get away in time!
Ribbon seal: Well, some of us wiggle side to side instead of doing the caterpillar. It’s faster, you should try it. Then I can get to the edge quicker.
Ringed seal: What edge? What if you’re stuck right in the middle of an ice pack?
Ribbon seal: That wouldn’t happen.
Ringed seal: Or on shore?
Ribbon seal: What’s that?
Ringed seal: Okay fine, so what’s your “Plan B”, then?
Ribbon seal: Just play dead. It’s easier, and I wouldn’t waste my energy.
Ringed seal: You ribbon seals. You let boats get too close as well. You don’t know you’re born sometimes, do you?
Ribbon seal: Hey that’s not fair. My mum had a tough time of it.
Ringed seal: Er, she lived all the way to 30. She must have had a pretty easy time of it!
Ribbon seal: Nooope, she was around before all those really big seal hunts stopped. It used to happen over in the Bering AND Okhotsk Sea. Might start up again someday, who knows?
Ringed seal: Hmm.
Ribbon seal: So don’t act like we don’t know what danger is. We’re just taking a break from it, that’s all.
Ringed seal: Well. I suppose it’s good you weren’t scared. Don’t you guys have some big throat sac for making noise? You’d have deafened me with a scream.
Ribbon seal: Nah, don’t worry, no film could scare me that badly.
Ringed seal: It’s good to be scared though, it keeps you on your flippers! What about a disaster movie.
Ribbon seal: Nuh-uh.
Ringed seal: Ooh how about this one: “when there’s no more ice, you’re in…’Hot Water'”!
Ribbon seal: Damn, no pack ice? Where would I change my wardrobe?
Ringed seal: I knew you’d be scared of something.
Ribbon seal: Hey, the only thing that should be broken up is my silhouette. By my sweet, sweet ribbon stripes.
Ringed seal: Well, if it makes you feel any better, you wouldn’t be the only one pushed over the edge.
Latin: Histriophoca fasciata
What? Seal with white ribbon-like markings
Where? The Bering Sea (between the U.S. and Russia) and the northern Pacific around Japan
How big? Up to 1.7 metres / 5.6 feet long
Endangered? Although commercially hunted in Russia until 1994, they’re now considered Least Concern
Probable motto: I keep the danger on ice.
They look adorable. Do they need my help at all?
Nope, they’ve managed to avoid us and most other predators by the sounds of it! However, melting sea ice will expose them to more predators like walruses as well as more boat traffic, so not all plain sailing on the horizon. It’s currently protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the US, but if you want to help its sealy siblings or the oceans in general, WWF has a campaign or two:
Just to prove I’m not fibbing:
Berry, Ben, and Townsend, Kelsey. No date.”Histriophoca fasciata“. Animal Diversity Web.
Boveng, P.L. et al. 2008. “Status review of the ribbon seal (Histriophoca fasciata)“. NOAA.
Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. No date. “Ribbon seal“. Britannica.com
“Histriophoca fasciata“. No date. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Jefferson, Thomas A. et al. 2015. “Marine Mammals of the World: A comprehensive guide to their identification“.
Mustain, Andrea. 2012. “Rare sea creature climbs on to Seattle woman’s dock“. LiveScience.com.
“Ribbon seal“. No date. NOAA fisheries.
Featured image credit: “Male ribbon seal” by jomilo75