Harbour seal - biology fast facts

Common name
harbour seal, common seal
Scientific name
Phoca vitulina
Body size
Males: 1.4-1.9m, 55-170 kg
: 1.2-1.7m, 45-105 kg
Average life expectancy
Males: up to 20-25 years
Females: up to 30-35 years
Vocal behavior
Probably the least vocal of all pinnipeds.
Males roar underwater to attract mates. They may snort, hiss, grow, or sneeze when threatened
Physical characteristics
Vary in colour from black, brown, gray or tan, with darker patches. Pelage is unique to the individual.
Relatively large head with a short body and flippers
Fish, cephalopods (squid and octopus) and crustaceans (shrimp and crabs)
Foraging behavior
Make short regular dives, usually to less than 100m, inshore
The most widely distributed pinniped; haul out onto rocky shores, mud flats, sandy beaches, and log booms; may also inhabit fresh water; do not tend to travel more than 20km from the shore
Inhabit the waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans
Courtship and mating take place underwater. Females give birth to a single pup. Pup is born in an advanced state of development, and can crawl and swim within a few hours of birth. Mother will mate again immediately after weaning.
Conservation status
Are not endangered, although their tendency to stay in the same area for the majority of the year has meant that some local populations have disappeared, such as in the Gulf of Alaska.

See: Species At Risk Public Registry