The Saimaa Ringed Seal (Pusa hispida saimensis, saimaannorppa) is a subspecies of Ringed Seal (Pusa hispida) . They are among the most endangered seals in the world, having a total population of only about 270 individuals. The only existing population of these seals is found in Lake Saimaa, Finland (hence the name). The population is descended from Ringed Seals that were separated from the rest when the land rose after the last ice age. This seal, along with the Ladoga Seal and the Baikal Seal, is the only living seal to live its life entirely in freshwater.
An adult Saimaa Ringed Seal is between 85 and 160 cm in length and weighs between 40 and 90 kg; males usually being larger than females. They are coloured dark gray, with a gray-black dorsal with circular white rings. The bottom is light gray. The Saimaa Ringed Seal is darker in color than other ringed seals. Some Norppas have blond fur and usually have pink slush around their mouths.
Saimaa Ringed Seals become mature between the ages of 3 and 7. Their pregnancy rate is between 80 and 95 percent. Ringed seals' gestation lasts 11 months. Their pups are between 55 and 65 cm, and 4 to 5 kg at birth. The Saimaa Ringed Seal's longevity is just over 20 years. With the current population level, between 30 and 60 (65 in 2004) pups are born every year.
The Saimaa Ringed Seal has been protected since 1955. In 1983, the population was between 100 and 150 seals. In 2005, it is about 270. It is thought that the immediate threat of extinction would be alleviated if the population grew to over 400 individuals.
In order to protect the Saimaa Ringed Seal, fisheries have been banned from their living areas. Also, it is forbidden for unauthorised people to go to the islands where these seals live.
The Saimaa Ringed Seal lives nowadays mainly in two Finnish national parks, Kolovesi and Linnansaari.