The US federal government proposed listing two seals that depend on sea ice as threatened species because of the projected loss of ice from climate warming.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will seek to list ringed seals found in the Arctic Basin and the North Atlantic and two populations of bearded seals in the Pacific Ocean as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Ringed seals are the main prey of polar bears, which were listed as threatened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008.
For ringed seals, the proposed listing also cites the threat of reduced snow cover.
NOAA climate models were used to predict future sea ice conditions.
The Centre for Biological Diversity petitioned to list the seals in 2008 and later sued to force a decision on additional protections.
“We’re pleased that NOAA is following the science and the law in recognising the reality of what global warming is doing to the Arctic and its species,” said Brendan Cummings, an attorney for the Centre for Biological Diversity.