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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Gray Seal Halichoerus grypus

The gray seal has a distinctive convex muzzle, which gives it a “Roman-nosed” appearance. Adults vary in color: male gray seals are usually gray overall, with pale patches on their undersides, while females often have a marbled pattern of dark patches over a much lighter background. Male gray seals may be two or three times heavier than females—a difference exceeded by few other true seals. When not hunting for their usual diet of fish, gray seals spend their time either resting on rocks or “bottling”—sleeping in the water with their bodies vertical and their nostrils just above the surface. They breed onshore, hauling themselves out onto beaches or grass farther inland. Gray seal pups have a white natal coat, and they stay onshore for two to three months before venturing into the sea.

Gray Sealzoom image
Gray Sealzoom image
Gray Sealzoom image
Gray Sealzoom image
  • Order Carnivora
  • Length 6–7 ft (1.8–2.3 m)
  • Weight 550–880 lb (250–400 kg)
  • Habitat Rocky coasts, offshore islands
  • Distribution Discontinuous populations in northwest Atlantic, Iceland, British Isles, Baltic Sea
Gray Seal habitat mapzoom image