Harbor seals are found along coastal regions and near islands of both the northern Atlantic and the northern Pacific oceans over a wide range of latitudes.
Harbor seals live in temperate, subarctic and Arctic Ocean waters, and occasionally fresh water lakes and rivers. They tend to stay within 12 miles of the coast. They are often seen at sandy beaches, mudflats, bays and estuaries.
- Harbor seals are four to six feet long (1.2-1.9 m).
- Weight ranges from 110-300 pounds (50-140 kg) with males slightly larger than females.
- Harbor seals are covered with short, thick fur ranging in color from silver gray to black or dark brown covered with spots.
- They have a rounded body shape and webbed flippers.
- Are true, or crawling seals, with no external earflaps.
What Does It Eat?
In the wild: An opportunistic feeder of squid, medium-sized fish, crustaceans, mollusks and octopus. They eat five to six percent of their body weight each day.
At the zoo: Capelin, herring and mackerel supplemented with vitamins and minerals. They are also fed a ground up fish product.
What Eats It?
Killer whales, sharks, polar bears, Steller sea lions, walruses, and scavengers including coyotes and eagles.
Harbor seals are mostly solitary animals except during mating season and females with pups. Seals will haul out on land in loosely organized groups. Hierarchies are based on size and sex with adult males dominant. The more dominant a seal the drier or warmer the spot of land they can claim.
Males are sexually mature at three to seven years and females at three to six years. During mating season, males will mate with several females. After a gestation of nine to 11 months (including a delayed implantation period of one to three months), females give birth to one pup on land, ice or in the water. The seal pup is large – 29-39 inches long (74-99 cm) weighing 18-26 pounds (8-12 kg). Pups are well developed at birth, their eyes are open and they are immediately able to swim with their mother. Seal milk is 45% fat so pups grow quickly, and they are weaned at four to six weeks when they weigh about 50 pounds (23 kg) and are able to catch and eat crustaceans. Pup mortality is about 21% in the first year. Females mate again soon after the pups are weaned, and generally give birth to one pup each year. Harbor seals live 15-20 years in the wild and 25-30 years in captivity.