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Harbor Seal

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The Harbor seal is a quite unusual looking at with spotted coats that range in color from white or silver gray to a dark Brown or black coat, some of the seals located in San Francisco Bay have a red coloring probably caused from iron or selenium elements from the shoreline.. They can weigh as much as 300 pounds with males being slightly larger than the females reaching between 5 and 6 feet in length. They have no external ear flaps, and crawl on land in a flopping motion on their bellies with their small flippers aiding them along. Interestingly coated gray seals are also earless seals. No two harbor seals look-alike they are all very individualistic and can easily be distinguished from each other for those who observe them regularly.

These amazing seals are often found on Rocky islands, coastlines, sandy beaches, England gray areas as well as mudflats. They are found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and often range as far as Alaska to Baja California. They have been seen in Canada, New York, Florida and Greenland. Pups are born between February and April normally weighing between 2024 pounds in California. These little pups are able to swim immediately upon birth but when tired are often found riding on their mothers backs. The mothers wean their pups after about four weeks. Most of the females give birth every year and they live between 25 to 30 years. The female is pregnant for 11 months before giving birth to the 30 pound pup.

These amazing animals have been known to dive up to 1500 feet and remain underwater for up to 40 minutes, they are often found sleeping in the water however the average dive is usually in shallower water and tends to be between 3 to 7 minutes in length. While in the water they curiously watch people along the shorelines, however they quickly rush into the water when approached. They feed on sole, hake, cod, flounder, herring, octopus, and squid. Even though they are often found in small groups, they have been seen with up to 500 together at a time. At the Marine mammal center the harbor seal is the third most common patient. The center focuses on orphaned Harbor seals and Elephant seal pups from mid-February until the end of June. Their main focus is rescue and rehabilitation. These little pups are kept quarantined and removed from public view due to the susceptibility they have for disease and stress.

These gentle creatures are hunted by orca whales, sharks, and polar bears, the pups often fall prey to birds of prey or other wild animals such as the fox. Humans have also been a large predator, however now sealing is illegal.

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