"In the sea around Greenland there live five species of seal."

The most common seals in Greenland

In the sea around Greenland there live five species of seal, of which the ringed seal, the harp seal and the hooded seal are the most common.

The bearded seal and the common seal are relatively rare. None of the species are threatened by extinction, but the common seal, which is not really an Arctic seal species, is thought to be dwindling in numbers in West Greenland.

Nowhere in Greenland are seal pups killed - only natural circumstances play a role, such as when the polar bear or the arctic fox pick up the scent of the ringed seal's hollow in a snowdrift, where it gives birth to its young in March-April.

The ringed seal

The ringed seal is the smallest species of seal, and it can weigh up to 100 kg (220 lbs). The skin is characterised by ring-shaped markings, primarily on the dark grey back.

It mainly lives in fjords where there are ice fells and in areas where the sea freezes in winter. Although the sea ice can be up to two metres (6½ feet) thick, the ringed seal manages to keep a number of breathing holes open and thereby survive.

"Although the sea ice can be up to two metres (6½ feet) thick, the ringed seal manages to keep a number of breathing holes open and thereby survive."

"The harp seal is the most common species of seal in Greenland."

The harp seal

The harp seal is the most common species of seal in Greenland. It comes to the southern part of Greenland in around May on its journey north from the breeding grounds around Newfoundland.

On sailing trips in the fjords and archipelagos you can see groups of harp seals - perhaps 20-30 strong - frolicking on the surface of the water.

The hooded seal

The hooded seal is the largest of the five species of seal with a weight of up to 400 kg (880 lbs). The male seals can be distinguished by a large bulge on their head which they can inflate when angry.

The majority of hooded seals are caught in Southwest Greenland, which they pass twice a year on their migration route between the breeding and moulting grounds. A large number are also caught in East Greenland.

"Earlier it was primarily the skin from the hooded seal that was used to cover kayaks (qajaq) and umiaks (umiaq).

"The majority of hooded seals are caught in Southwest Greenland."