Common Name: Harp Seal
AKA: Greenland seal, saddle seal and saddleback seal
Scientific Name: Phoca Groenlandica
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia (Animals with Milk Glands)
Sub Class: Eutheria (True Mammals)
Order: Carnivora (Meat Eating Mammals)
Sub Order: Pinnipedia (Finned animals)
Family: Phocidae
Genus: Pagophilus
Life Span: 30-35 years
Body Length: 1.4 - 2m (4.6 - 6.6 feet)
Weight: 130-160 kg or 286-352 lbs.
Sexual Maturity: Females(4-6 years) Males(7-8 years)
Breeding Season: Late March to early April
Gestation: 11-12 months (4.5 months of delayed implantation)
Give Birth: Late February to early March
Number of offspring: 1 (2 on rare occasions)
Diet: Polar and Arctic cod, capelin, herring, halibut, sculpin, Greenland halibut, redfish, plaice, crab and shrimp
Predators: Polar bears, killer whales, sharks, man and sometimes the walrus(coo coo ca choo)
There are three main herds of harp seals, the Barents Sea herd which migrates to the White Sea, north of Russia, the East Greenland herd which migrates to Jan Mayen Island, southeast of Spitsbergen, Norway, and the Northwest Atlantic herd which migrates from Baffin Island to the east coast of Newfoundland & Labrador ('The Front sub-population') and to the Gulf of St. Lawrence('The Gulf sub-population'). The information contained within this site is focused primarily on the Northwest Atlantic herd.
Description and life Cycle:
In September pack ice begins to form around Baffin Island which signifies the beginning of the harp seals annual journey south. As the ice begins to spread south the seals move ahead of its leading edge toward Labrador and Newfoundland. As the herd reaches the Great Northern Peninsula, about mid October, it breaks into two separate herds with one heading down the west coast of Newfoundland to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the other to spread along the east coast of Newfoundland as far as the Avalon Peninsula. From January to February they eat ferociously to create fat(blubber) stores for the upcoming birthing, breeding and moulting.
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