Big Eyed Harp Seals

Updated: Mar 21, 2021 “Harp Seals”

What is a Harp Seal?

The picture above is a baby harp seal! Adult Harp seals are gray, not white like the babies are! Pagophilus groenlandicus is their scientific name! Another name they are associated with is Saddleback seals, that name comes from the dark saddle-like marking on their back! Even though you see these beautiful creatures on land all the time they prefer to swim and be in the water!

What do Harp Seals eat?

Harp seals are carnivores. This means they only eat meat but that doesn't mean they are picky eaters! They have more than 130 species in their diet! Some of them have been found with 65 different species of invertebrates in their stomachs! Even though they eat a variety of food their most common food is capelin, Arctic Cod, and Polar Cod. Just like Beluga Whales, Harp seals do not chew their food they swallow it in large chunks. They use their flat back teeth to crush the shells of crustaceans. Since they are such fast swimmers they can catch their prey very fast and efficiently. Their whiskers (also known as vibrissae) are very sensitive to touch and to the vibrations caused by the movement of the prey.

Oceanwide Expeditions “Harp Seals”

How do Harp Seals Behave?

During breeding season Harp Seals gather in a pack on the ice. The group can contain up to 1 thousand seals. Colony and rookery are what these groups of seals are called. During seasonal migrations, they travel and hunt in groups. In the Summertime, they travel away from the pack ice and follow the ice north to feed in the Arctic. Harp Seals are very social during mating season, forming huge colonies. They also have a wide variety of calls, sometimes for warning other seals off.

Focusing on Wildlife “Climate Changing outlook for Harp Seals”

Where do Harp Seals live?

In the Springtime Harp Seals Migrate North. Throughout the summer they migrate to the Arctic. To reach the Arctic they must swim more than 3,200 kilometers. In general, the Harp Seals are around the cold waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

National Geographic “Inside the fragile world of Québec’s harp seals”

What are some characteristics of the Harp Seal?

The true seal family is what the Harp Seals are a part of! All true seals have short flippers which help them move through the ice. They are about 5 to 6 feet and weigh about 260 to 300 pounds. Unlike other mammals, they have narrow snouts and eight pairs of teeth in their lower and upper jaws. Their front flippers have big claws while their back flippers have smaller claws. Unlike the babies (also known as pups) adult Harp Seals have light gray fur with a black mask on their face and a curved black patch on their back. Some of them have dark spots scattered all over their bodies. Just like dogs Harp Seals shed their fur (also known as molt) in the springtime.

Our Marine Species “Harp Seals: Characteristics, Habitats, Reproduction and more”

What do the Harp Seals Offspring act and look like?

At birth, the pups weigh about 25 pounds and are 3 feet. After 12 days they gain about 5 pounds per day. From the scent of the pup, the mom can distinguish which one is hers. After a while, the pups are left on the pack ice. They lose about half of their weight before entering the water and feeding on their own. Pups are unable to swim or find food until they are about 25 days old. The pups are typically born in late February.



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