Creature Feature – Harbour Seal
This week’s featured creature is the Harbour Seal.
This week on Creature Feature Friday we take a detailed look at the Harbour seal. Alongisde other seals, sea lions and walruses, this species belongs to the sub-order Pinnipedia. Seals differ from sea lions in various ways, including having no visible earflaps! Harbour seals are also known as the common seal, and several subspecies are recognised, all of which inhabit different regions. They are one of the most common marine mammals along the U.S. West and East Coasts.
Scientific Name: Phoca vitulina
Harbour Seal Fact File
Size: Males reach between 1.6 and 1.9m in length and can weigh up to 170kg. Females reach between 1.5 and 1.7m in length and can weigh up to 100kg
Distribution: They are found throughout coastal waters of the Northern Hemisphere, from temperate to polar regions
Diet: Harbour seals are generalist feeders that feed on a wide variety of fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans. Animals from different populations and areas show differences, and there is also variation associated with seasonal and interannual changes in the abundance of prey
Behaviour: Unlike most other pinnipeds, harbour seals are generally solitary and rarely interact with one another. The way in which these seals hunt is poorly understood. They can sleep underwater and come up for air once every 30 minutes
IUCN Status: Least Concern. However, the subspecies Phoca vitulina mellonae, the Ungava seal, may soon be listed separately as Endangered