The harbor seals of Iliamna Lake, Alaska, are the only known population of freshwater harbor seals on the Pacific Rim. Living year-round at the largest lake in Alaska, their limited numbers make them highly sensitive to environmental disturbance.

The Anchorage office of the Center for Biological Diversity External Link has filed a petition under the Endangered Species Act to have this rare, vulnerable group listed for protection through its provisions. The period of public comment has been completed, and the Alaska Regional Office External Link of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) is currently (Jan. 2015) evaluating the evidence, possibly making a finding this spring. Alternatives include designation as a Distinct Population Stock, as recommended by a Native attorney External Link from Iliamna, providing protection while maintaining native sovereignty.

Over-wintering Iliamna seals gather around a breathing and hunting hole.

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Spectacular video of Iliamna harbor seals is included in The Landlocked Seals External Link,
a feature-length documentary currently under final production by acclaimed
Finnish filmmaker Juha Taskinen External Link with Mervi Kunnasranta. Release to be in 2016.

Documentation of the numbers, movements, feeding patterns, and breeding behavior of the group has been provided by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center External Link, University of Alaska researchers External Link, and local Native Associations External Link, covering years of land and aerial observation, tissue and DNA testing, and extensive, detailed recording of pertinent data.