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Spotted Seal


Scientific Name:
Phoca largha
Length:
male: 1.5 - 2.1 m (4.9 - 6.9 ft); female: 1.4 - 1.7 m (4.6 - 5.5 ft)
Weight:
male: 85 - 150 kg (190 - 330 lbs); female: 65 - 115 kg (140 - 250 lbs)
Status:
good to go
Prey:
Varies geographically and seasonally; crustaceans, cephalopods, herring, capelin, pollock, eelpout, sand lance and cod

Physical characteristics

Has grey fur with irregular black spots along the back.

Behavioral characterization

Very wary and not too likely to be seen close to boats.

Distribution

Along continental shelves of the North Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea. Also found along the ice flows of the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Okhotsk Seas.

Population size

Estimated 100,000 in the Bering Sea population, 100,000 in the Sea of Japan population, 3,300 in China and Russia and 300 in South Korea.

Predators

Sharks, killer whales, walruses, Steller sea lions, polar bears, brown bears, wolves, foxes and large birds.

Migration/Dispersal patterns

Spotted seals migrate south from the Chukchi Sea through the Bering Strait in October-November ahead of the advancing sea ice, and overwinter in the Bering Sea in the pack ice over the continental shelf. During spring, they are distributed mainly in the ice front and move to coastal habitats after the sea ice retreats.

Social system/Group size

Usually solitary. They haul in large groups during summer and form small groups of a male, female and her pup in spring.

Major threats

They are hunted (mainly in China to use the genitals and the fur as medicine).

Research efforts

N/A

Fun fact

Spotted seals are the only seals that breeds in China.