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Harbor Seal


Harbor Seal

Quick Facts

Genus: Phoca vitulina

Location: The shorelines of the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, in temperate, subarctic, and arctic waters

The Scoop

The Scoop

Expert Divers

Harbor seals belong to a group of animals known as Pinnipeds. They have no external ear flaps and have short, fur-covered front flippers. The color of their fur varies from black or brown to tan or grey, with light or dark spots. These animals move awkwardly on land, by wriggling their bodies like inch worms do. In the water, harbor seals are in their element. They can dive up to a depth of 1000 feet, and an adult harbor seal can hold its breath for up to 25 minutes. Harbor seals live along coastlines in temperate and arctic waters of the north Pacific and north Atlantic. They sometimes venture into fresh water such as rivers and lakes to feed. Harbor seals rest and raise their pups on sandy and rocky beaches.

Harbor seals are usually around 6 feet in length- or as tall as an adult, and can weigh up to 375 pounds which is the weight of two normal adults put together. They eat mostly mollusks like squid and clams, fish and crustaceans. They don’t chew their food but swallow it in large chunks. They can crush the shells of clams and prawns with their flat back teeth.

The Harbor seal is an important indicator species. In other words, the health of seal populations can tell us a lot about the health of our marine ecosystems. Populations have increased and none of the harbor seal species are currently endangered.