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The Harbour Seal: Fuzzy, Cute and About to Have Babies!

May 5, 2021

Meet the Harbour Seals!

Harbour Seals are the most abundant marine mammal in British Columbia. They sure are abundantly adorable and always exciting to see! With so many different haul out sites within the Salish Sea, guests are sure to spot Harbour Seals on any of our tours. With their annual pupping season about to begin, sightings of Harbour Seals are even more memorable with fuzzy little babies nursing from their moms!

            

Photo Credit: Rachael Merrett- Orca Spirit Marine Naturalist

Sporting All Kinds of Coats

Harbour Seals have very unique fur colours and patterns. They can be spotted, speckled, ringed or blotched and they can be grey, black, white, tan, or brown in colour. Their fur can help camouflage them from predators both on land and in the sea including Bald Eagles, wolves, and Bigg’s Killer Whales. Sometimes it is hard to spot Harbour Seals when they are relaxing on the islands because they blend in so well with the rocks!

         

Photo Credit: Rachael Merrett- Orca Spirit Marine Naturalist

What It’s Like Being a Harbour Seal

Harbour Seals have beaded whiskers that make them look spiralled. How fancy! Harbour Seals make a healthy snack for mammal-hunting killers as they reach 1.2 to 1.8 meters (4-6 feet) in length and they can weigh up to 136 kilograms (300 pounds)! When you are a marine mammal living in the Pacific Northwest, you need to have a thick layer of blubber to stay warm in waters that average only 10-12 degrees Celsius. For Harbour Seals, a few extra pounds around the middle is a good thing!

           

What’s on the Menu for a Harbour Seal?

Harbour Seals have a diverse palete, with at least 77 different species of fish known to be part of their diet in the Salish Sea. They have been accused of eating lots of salmon, but studies show that salmon from all five species only account for about 4% of what they eat. They also like to dine on octopus, squid, echinoderms, shrimp, and even birds.

         

New Pups on the Horizon!

The local Harbour Seal population’s pupping season beings between the middle of May to the beginning of June and typically ends in August. A female is pregnant for a total of 10.5 months. Pups must grow up fast with weaning occurring at just 4-6 weeks after birth!

           

Favourite Fun Fact About Harbour Seals!

One of the most fascinating facts about Harbour Seals is that a female can delay the implantation of her embryo for up to two months to make sure she has recovered from her last pupping event and is healthy enough to support a new pregnancy!

 

Don’t miss out on seeing the new Harbour Seal babies this season!  Join us on a tour today!

 

 

 

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