Harbor Seal - Phoca Vitulina
Harbor Seal - Phoca Vitulina

About Harbor seals.

They are marine animals, extremely clumsy out of the water. They move on land as if they were caterpillars.


These animals can dive at a depth of 180 meters and hold their breath under water up to 28 minutes. Each dive, however, takes normally an average of 3 minutes.


In order to survive in the icy water of the northern seas, seals have a thick layer of blubber that insulates their bodies against low temperatures and maintains the body heat.


Seals have evolved from the same ancestors as dogs and bears. They still have arms and legs contained within their round body, and hands and feet modified into flippers.


They have large dark eyes that allow them to see underwater at great depths where light is very limited.


Females of Harbor seal live significantly more than males. They actually live a third more than them (females 30-35 years and males 20-25).


The milk of female seals has a fat content of 40%. Babies double their weight in the first month of their lives, being able to survive on their own and fish after that.


Before immersion, seals exhale the air out of their lungs and, once they are underwater, they use the oxygen in their blood (they have proportionally more blood in their bodies than most animals) and muscles, lowering their heart rate from 100 to 10 beats per minute, which allows them to dramatically reduce the need for oxygen. Moreover, seals can replace 90% of the air in their lungs with just one breath (humans only 20%).


They have whiskers that help them detect vibrations underwater in shoals of fish and potential prey.


The main predators of these animals are orcas, polar bears and sharks.


These animals can sleep both in the water or on land. When in the sea, they keep their head above water.


They use their front flippers for steering underwater and the rear flippers for propulsion.

California Harbor seal laying on rock, Big sur, California. By worldswildlifewonders | Shutterstock.com
California Harbor seal laying on rock, Big sur, California. By worldswildlifewonders | Shutterstock.com
COMMON NAMECONSERVATION STATUS
Harbor SealLeast concern
SCIENTIFIC NAMESIZE
Phoca vitulina185 cm (6.1 ft)
FAMILYWEIGHT
Phocidae132 kg (290 lb)
ORDERLIFESPAN
Carnivora20-35 years
CLASSGESTATION PERIOD
Mammalia9-11 months
POPULATIONDIET
Estimated at 315,000 individualsThey feed mainly on fish, but they occasionally eat mollusks, crabs or squids too.
HABITATRANGE
It lives in coastal waters of temperate and cold seas of the planet’s Northern Hemisphere.Coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Baltic sea and North sea.
A Harbour seal looking straight into the camera while in the water offshore at a beach. By Pat Stornebrink | Shutterstock.com
A Harbour seal looking straight into the camera while in the water offshore at a beach. By Pat Stornebrink | Shutterstock.com

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