In Lake Saimaa, there lives a unique animal that you cannot find anywhere else in the world – the Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis), known in Finnish as the norppa.
The roots of the Saimaa ringed seal go back around 8000 years to when it was separated from other ringed seal populations after the last ice age. Since then, it has adapted to living in fresh water. There are currently around 360 seals in Lake Saimaa.
The Saimaa ringed seal is a mammal that lives in the water and only visits the land. May and June are the best months for seal spotting because after the ice melts from the lakes, the seals warm themselves on the rocks in the spring sunshine, and are more easily spotted due to them shedding their winter fur.
If you would like to see a Saimaa ringed seal, it is advisable to go with experienced guides on seal tours. The guides know Lake Saimaa and its seals like the backs of their hands! If you go on a trip with a guide in springtime you can be almost guaranteed to get a look at this endangered seal. These tours and safaris are always done with the best interests of the seals in mind, and they are never disturbed.