Finland’s Saimaa Ringed Seal Population at 310

Saimaa Ringed Seal
Photo by Juha Taskinen

The world’s most endangered seal can only be found in Lake Saimaa, Finland. It is currently under imminent threat of extinction with only 310 of them left.

“Hair nickel, mercury, cadmium, lead and chromium concentrations were measured from still-born ringed seal pups and from other ringed seal groups from Lake Saimaa in Finland. Nickel concentration was significantly higher in the hair samples of still-born pups as compared to live-born pups and to adult seals. There was assumed to be some connection between the stillbirth of the pups and nickel concentration of the hair. Mercury concentration of the natal hair of pups was significantly higher than the mercury concentration of the first adult hair but no clear connection between stillbirth and mercury pollution was observed. No differences were observed in cadmium, lead and chromium concentrations of the hair of still-born and other ringed seal groups,”  says the  Department of Biology, University of Joensuu, Finland

A recent Finnish press release reads:

A toxic leak at Europe’s largest nickel mine, located at Talvivaara in north-eastern Finland, is set to become a major environmental accident. Since Sunday, at least the large mine has discharged hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of toxic effluent into the nearby environment.

Journalists have not been permitted to enter the area to acquaint themselves with the situation.

The mine has leaked heavy metals like cadmium and nickel into its surroundings and nearby lakes. The uranium concentration in the effluent has risen by 100-200 times its normal level in the bottom and surface waters. Company representatives reported three weeks ago that 1.4 million cubic metres of polluted water were also present in the quarry itself.

On Wednesday 7th November Finland’s largest environmental NGO, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, called for government intervention in the matter.

“Finland is renowned as a hi-tech country in the environment sector. However, it has not applied its abilities to mining operations: in particular there have been deficiencies in control. The Talvivaara mine has become a classic example of what can happen when environmental monitoring is left to business interests,” says Executive Director Eero Yrjö-Koskinen from the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation.

The Talvivaara mine has been in the news headlines in Finland for many years due to its environmental problems. Last spring one of its employees died from hydrogen sulphide poisoning in the mining area and dozens of dead waterbirds were discovered in the open pond. Dust and obnoxious odours from the mine have dispersed over a wide area, while the mine’s impact on the waterway has been detected over a hundred kilometres downstream.

Northern Finland is among Europe’s quietest and wildest areas where tourism is of crucial importance.

For more information about the Saimaa ring seal visit:




Categories: Condition of Oceans, Entangled Marine Mammals, Fishing Lines, Ghost Nets, Marine Mammal Rescue, nature, Pesticides, Plastic Pollution, Plastics and marine mammals, Sewage Pollution

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2 replies

  1. Charmaine, thank you for the education I get from your blog!

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