Harp Seals

By: Chloe Barker

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Baby Harp Seal

Harp Seals

The harp seal is a type of seal found living in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Oceans. If you are looking for a harp seal you would have to see a silvery-gray body if it was an adult, and white/cream colored if it was a baby. Harp seals have pure black eyes and it has a black harp or wishbone markings on the back. Harp seals grow up to be 1.7 to 2.0m ( 5 to 6 feet ) long and weigh from 140 to 190 kg (300 to 400) pounds. The adult male is known as the bull, the adult female is called a cow, and the babies are called pups.

Hungry, Hungry, Harp Seals

Harp Seals are carnivores and eat most of what is found in the arctic. Baby harp seals, also known as pups, must eat in order for their teeth to grow. They will dive down approximately 100 meters to search for food. Harp Seals often hunt for fish and crustaceans. They hunt for many others too. here are some examples, crab, krill, capelin, plaice, eels, shrimp, salmon, and herring. The harp seals favorite foods are, octopus, flounder, cod, plankton, smelt, anchovies, and squid.

Life of the Harp Seals

Harp Seals give birth to one pup in early spring. Most newborn Harp Seals or pups weigh up to 24 pounds. The baby harp Seals/pups appear to have whitish-yellowish fur. The Harp Seal pups nurse for only two days after birth, but they triple their weight during that period. Harp seals learn to swim at about 3 weeks of age. After they are weaned, the harp seals are on their own. Their white fur begins to molt into patches. In about 18 days, their coats change to silver-gray with spots. They stay this color for the rest of their lives.

Watch out Harp Seals!

Like some animals harp seals are endangered so they need to be careful in the Arctic. Believe it or not, humans are responsible for killing harp seals too, so we need to protect these beautiful mammals. But other animals hunt them for food. Some of the predators are polar bears, orcas, sharks, birds, wolves, and foxes. Because the harp seals live partially on land those land animals can make the harp seals endangered too.

Did you know?

  • Male harp seals get the harp-like marking at the age seven, but females get them at the age twelve

  • In mating season a male harp seal will dance to get the best mate

  • A mother harp seal can distinguish its baby from hundreds of others based on smell alone

  • Seals that wander from the herd are called vagrants.