Harp Seal

Scientific Name:
Pagophilus groenlandicus
1.7 - 2.0 m (5.5 - 6.6 ft)
140 - 190 kg (300 - 400 lbs)
good to go
Polar cod, capelin, herring, halibut, small crabs and shrimp

Physical characteristics

Has a black face with a silver-grey body and black eyes. Pups are born with pure white coats.

Behavioral characterization

The females will stay with their pups until they wean.


Northern Atlantic including Norway, Russia, Greenland, Canada and parts of the Arctic.

Population size



Killer whales.

Migration/Dispersal patterns

They are strongly migratory. The northwest populations migrate up to 4000 km (2500 mi) northeast.

Social system/Group size

Usually groups of 1 - 3. They gather in the breeding season with up to 2,000 individuals.

Major threats

Commercially hunted in Canada, Norway, Russia, Greenland. The global climate change may lead to loss of ice packs upon which it gives birth and avoids predators.

Research efforts

www.harpseals.org work together with a number of reseachers to investigate and end the (illegal) hunting of harp seals in Canada.

Fun fact

A mother harp seal can distinguish her pup from others by its scent alone.