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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Harp Seal Pagophilus groenlandicus

One of the most common seals in the far north, the harp seal is born with an exceptionally luxurious coat of long white fur, which camouflages the pups as they lie on sea ice. Adult harp seals are silvery-gray with a mottled pattern of dark patches, which become more prominent as they age. Harp seals feed mainly on fish and shrimp, living on the southern edge of the Arctic pack ice, and resting on it when they molt. In early spring, adult females give birth to a single pup each, which they wean after just 12 days. At this point, the harp seal pup gradually sheds its white coat and takes up life in the sea. Harp seals are hunted by humans, sharks, polar bears, and killer whales.

Harp Sealzoom image
  • Order Carnivora
  • Length 5–6 ft (1.7–1.9 m)
  • Weight 265–310 lb (120–140 kg)
  • Habitat Polar waters
  • Distribution North Atlantic and adjoining regions of the Arctic Ocean, extending eastward to Siberia
Harp Seal habitat mapzoom image