Harbor Seal Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Harbor Seal

Scientific Name:

Phoca vitulina

Wild Status:

Least Concern

Habitat:

Ocean

Country:

Very Wide Distribution

Shelter:

Rocky and sandy resting areas

Life Span:

30-35 years

Size:

370 lbs

Cool Facts:

  • Females are pregnant for 9 months.
  • Harbor Seals give birth to one pup.
  • Pups are able to swim and dive shortly after birth.
  • Harbor Seals are solitary except when out on land.
  • Harbor Seals love harbors and bays.
  • They are primarily fish eaters.
  • Harbor Seals and remain submerged for close to 28 minutes.
  • Harbor Seals can dive up to 300 ft.
  • Harbor Seals are prey upon by Killer Whales.
  • Harbor Seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Details:

Harbor Seals are one of those pudgy sea creatures that are able to swim like a torpedo and are found throughout the majority of the world's oceans.  They are one of the most common pinnipeds with a huge population of size of close to 500,000 individuals world wide.  Harbor Seals are incredible swimmers and love hunting and eating fish, but they do eat occasional invertebrates like crabs and shrimps.  The majority of time that we see the Harbor Seals and other pinnipeds is when they are out on land or a pier, which is referred to as being hauled out. They love to haul out on piers, in harbors, on rocky shores and even on nice hot sandy beaches. Harbor Seals, walrus, and other seals which are referred to as the pinnipeds, which are the fin-footed marine mammals.  Harbor Seals are closely related to bears and the mustelids, which are both carnivorous mammals, similar to the seals. Harbor Seals are a very sought after food source for many of the ocean's top predators like Killer Whales and sharks. Hauling out is the best way for the Harbor Seals to avoid predation, but they will also haul out to sun bath, relax and to molt.  We will be talking more about the Harbor Seals molting in our Harbor Seal Blog.  

Taxonomic Breakdown:

  • Kingdom:  Animalia 
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia 
  • Order: Carnivora 
  • Family: Phocidae 
  • Genus: Phoca 
  • Species: Phoca vitulina
 

Conservation & Helping:

Harbor Seals are currently listed as least concern and considered to be in the top 3 most common marine mammals on the planet. The are very widespread and found in multiple oceans.  Scientist believe that there is a maximum population size of around 500,000 individuals. Harbor Seals were hunted in the past, but are now only hunted by Alaskan natives.  They are also protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, so the Harbor Seals will continue to have stable populations for the foreseeable future. Hopefully we will rally together and continue securing the Harbor Seals future.

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