Finland's fragile population of Saimaa ringed seals has crept up above 300, according to the state forest management agency Metsähallitus. However, this year's pups are worryingly underweight.
The species, which is only found in the lake district of Eastern Finland, is among the world's most endangered mammals. Despite its protected status, seal pups continue to die in fishing nets, making its long-term survival doubtful.
Recent cold, snowy winters have been conducive to seal reproduction, though. Metsähallitus says that the seal stock has edged up over the past three years to a current estimate of 310 individuals. Officials at the state enterprise believe there are around 85 seal cows of reproductive age. They gave birth to some 60 cubs last spring.