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.

Creature Feature Friday - Harbour Seal


Scientific Name: Phoca vitulina

Phylum: Chordata

Order: Carnivora

Family: Phocidae

Genus: Phoca

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