Harbor Seals

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  • Topic: Pinniped, Walrus, Marine mammals
  • Pages : 4 (1690 words )
  • Download(s) : 62
  • Published : January 7, 2002
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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 in Europe the estimated population was 6,000 in 1997. Harbor seals spend about half their time on land and half in water, and they sometimes sleep in water. They may sleep most of the day on the beach to keep safe from the predators that hunt them, and go into the water only a couple of times each day to hunt for food. Harbor seals don't have a permanent place to live but they usually are found in small groups, but sometimes occur in numbers of up to 100 to 500. Their average life span is around 25 years, although...
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