They are the largest seal in northern waters, with females weighing up to 300kg. Fossils found in 2002 suggest that in the Pleistocene epoch, they were found as far south as South Carolina.
They are arctic species found on essentially all of the coast around the north pole, though having said this, they have been spotted in Japan and China, as well as around much of the European coast, as far south as Spain.
They mostly feed on prey found on the ocean floor. They generally enter the water just hours after being born. Predated on by orca and Polar bears, it is thought that Polar bears rely in this seal species quite heavily in parts of their range.
Bearded seals produce distinct trills (with their voice) that can carry 30km.
There are currently 2 recognized subspecies, imaginatively named the Eastern and Western bearded seal.
With currently large populations ( they are considered least concern) there is a thought, that as they rely on ice for some of their life it is thought that as climate change continues it could have an adverse impact on this population