Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina)

Harbor seals can be seen throughout the northern coasts of North America, Europe, and Asia. They are medium-sized and the color of their fur varies substantially with latitude, ranging from light tan or silver with dark spots to black with light incomplete rings. They are the most common marine mammal in our region; they are not migratory and stay generally within 50 miles of home. Harbor seals extensively use shoreline habitats for thermoregulating, resting, pupping, nursing, and molting. They feed on rockfish, cod, herring, flounder, salmon, and a variety of benthic and pelagic species of fish. Harbor seals reach sexual maturity at 3-7 years and gestation lasts approximately 10 months.  Females give birth in the spring & summer, generally earlier in the year the further South they live.  Nurseries provide protection for pups, and mothers nurse their young for 4-6 weeks, with milk that is 50% fat. Seal pups haulout on shore to rest and regulate their body temperature. If you see a seal pup alone on the beach, it is not abandoned! The best thing to do is stay 100 yards away from the animal, harbor seal mothers are shy and will not return if there are disturbances around the pup. A required 48 hour observation time is necessary to determine if the pup is being attended by the mother or if it has been abandoned. Harbor seals may haul out at night and during the day. They also have the ability to sleep underwater and come up for air once every 30 minutes, they are unable to sleep at the surface of the water. On land harbor seals are very awkward, they are unable to move their hind limbs forward to create a “walking” motion, and instead move using a "caterpillar" motion. Therefore, locomotion on land is accomplished by wriggling undulations using mainly the front flippers, with the hind limbs dragging behind. This does not mean they are injured.

To report a dead, injured or stranded marine mammal, please call: 1-866-767-6114 
For law enforcement, harassments,  and other violations, please call:  1-800-853-1964