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Harbor seals are marine mammals that have spotted coats in a variety of shades from silver gray, black to dark brown. They reach 5 to 6 feet in length and weigh up to 300 pounds. Harbor seals are dimorphic, with the male being slightly larger than the female. They are true, or crawling seals, which means they have no external earflaps. True seals also have small flippers, and move on land by flopping along on their bellies. They breathe at the surface and hold their breath while diving. They can dive to 1,500 feet for up to 40 minutes, although their average dive lasts 3 to 7 minutes. Their scientific name basically means 'sea calf' or 'sea dog.' This nickname is fits them well, as these seals closely resemble a dog when their head is viewed at the surface of the water.
When the harbor seal pup (baby seal) is born, it has a coat that closely resembles the adult coat. Some have a longer, softer white or gray coat (lanugo) when born, but they shed that coat within about 10 days.
Harbor seals are found across the Northern Hemisphere in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In the northeast Pacific, they range from Alaska to Baja California, in Mexico. They live near-shore coastal waters and frequent sandy beaches, mudflats, bays, and estuaries. Some harbor seals even live in certain areas of Europe such as Finland.
The total harbor seal population in the northeast Pacific is estimated to be 330,000, in California the estimated population was 40,000, and i...
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...ick layer of fat beneath their skin, giving them a thick sausage shape. To make the harbor seals less noticeable to predators, their coats sometimes blend in with the rocks or sand they?re lying in. To help them find food easier, they have a keen sense of smell. Without these adaptations, who knows if the Harbor Seal would still exist today.
*Hanan, D. (1999). Pacific Harbor Seals. Alolkoy Publishing Co. PP 12-59.
*King, J. (1983). Seals of the World. British Museum (Natural History) and Cornell University Press. PP 20-26.
*Internet: Sea World web site.
www.seaworld.org/animal_bytes/harborsealab.html April 20, 2001
*Internet: The Marine Mammal Center web site.
www.tmmc.org/harborsl.htm April 20, 2001
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