Harbor Seal

Phoca vitulina
Harbor seals "molt" each year, replacing old oiled hair for new/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach
Designed for life in the water, harbor seals use their hind flippers to propel their streamlined body through the water in search of fish, squid and shellfish. With its rounded head and lack of external earlobes, harbor seals are easy to identify from their cousins the seal-lions. Often seen curiously observing people from the surf, bays or river mouths, these seals seem to exhibit little fear of humans unless they are “hauled out” on land. Harbor seals spend up to half of their day out of the water resting and regulating their body temperature. Search sandbars and mudflats for seals at rest. Note how they hold their heads and hind feet up from the ground making a banana-like shape. Their skin secretes oil onto their fur to help insulate the seal from the cold. Each year the oiled fur is molted and new fur is grown, making harbor seals, like the one pictured above, appear unhealthy. Learn more about harbor seals…

Facts About Harbor Seal

Will follow fish far into freshwater rivers

Can sleep underwater

Hold their breath for up to 30 minutes