Harbor seal

Animal Facts

  • Scientific Name

    Phoca vitulina

  • Animal Type

    Marine mammals

  • Diet

    fishes, squid and crustaceans

  • Size

    to 5 feet (1.6 m)

  • Relatives

    ringed seals, bearded seals; Order: Pinnipedia; Family: Phocidae

  • Habitat

    Kelp Forest

  • Range

    temperate and subarctic coastal areas on both sides of the north Atlantic and north Pacific Oceans

Natural History

Awkward and cumbersome on land, harbor seals maneuver with grace and agility in the water. They can even sleep with their bodies nearly submerged in water, exposing only the tip of their nose to the air—a posture called "bottling."


Conservation

There is currently no commercial hunting of harbor seal, but some native subsistence hunting of seals still occurs. Because they compete for many of the same species of fish, harbor seals are sometimes killed by commercial fishers. Seals can also become entangled and drown in fishing nets and gear.


Cool Facts

Small groups of harbor seals haul out in protected shoreline areas to breed, moult and rest.



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