The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced it’s considering whether to list four species of Arctic seals under the Endangered Species Act due in part to climate change. The Center for Biological Diversity, a species-advocacy group, petitioned the agency last year to consider protecting ribbon seals due to disappearing sea ice and other concerns. NOAA agreed Wednesday to review ribbon seals’ status as well as that of bearded, ringed, and spotted seals. “While the four species of ice seals in Alaska all utilize various types of sea ice habitats, they use the ice in different ways,” said Doug Mecum of NOAA. “Therefore, careful status reviews of each species is warranted.” The agency said it will finish review of ribbon seals by the end of the year. CBD was pleasantly surprised the agency agreed to evaluate the seals, but it maintained a realistic perspective on listing. “Any Arctic scientist paying attention knows it’s not just the polar bear, it’s not just the ribbon seal, it’s the entire ecosystem and all of the species are in trouble,” said Brendan Cummings.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!