Harbor Seal are the most aquatic member of the species. Males
are six feet long, up to 300 pounds (rarely 550 pounds) white
the females are five feet long, 150 pounds. There muzzles
are short, head noticeably round, flippers well-haired, and
there colors are extremely variable; from pale silver gray
spotted with black to dark brown or almost black with spots
hardly discernible. Females are darker than the males. The
white fluffy fur of the young are highly valued in many regions.
feeding habits of Harbor Seals have been studied closely in
many parts of their range; they are known to prey primarily
upon fish such as menhaden, anchovy, sea bass, herring, cod,
whiting and flatfish, and occasionally upon shrimp, shellfish
and squid. Harbor Seals are able to dive for
up to ten minutes, reaching depths of 50 meters or more, but
average dives may be three minutes long at depths of about
20 meters. In the winter they come out on ice. In the summer
they come out on the shore.
of pups occurs annually on shore, beginning in February for
populations in lower latitudes, and as late as July in the
subarctic zone. The mothers are the sole providers of care
with lactation lasting four to six weeks; males occupy themselves
with fights between other males. The pups are born singly
and well developed, capable of swimming and diving within
hours. Suckling for three to four weeks, pups feed on the
mother's rich, fatty milk and grow rapidly; born weighing
up to 16 kilograms, the pups may double their weight by the
time of weaning.
This type of seal is considered to be solitary, but can be
very aggressive amongst several hundred. The aggressive type
of Fighting involves biting, head butting, flipper waving
snorting and growling. Males are thought to be polygamous
and may fight for mating privileges.
species is divided into three main populations, in the Arctic
Ocean, in Greenland, and in Newfoundland. Their habitat is
in Arctic waters and ice floes or along the coastlines.
Atlantic harbor seals migrate to southeastern New England
from Maine and Canada during the winter months (November -
April). In April, these seals return to the Gulf of Maine
to give birth to young pups. During low tides, harbor seals
bask on exposed rocks off the shores in New England. Sometimes,
they will bask on the beaches that are not populated with
people during the winter.
can be found along the coastal regions of Canada, China (south
toKiangsu), Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Greenland, Iceland,
Ireland, Japan (Hokkaido), Mexico (Baja californai, Isla Guadalupe-vagrant),
Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Rusia (Kurile Isls and Kamchatka),
Sweden, USA (Atlantic coast: Maine, Massachussetts, New Hampshire,
vagrants: New York, Florida, Vermont, Pacific Coast: Alaska,
Washingon, Oregon, California).