Monday, September 6, 2010

Harp Seal

Adult (Image Source)
Harp Seals are probably best known in their pup form; the white, fluffy, adorable little guys that seems highly represented in the children's plush toy market. Harp Seals are found in the Arctic Waters, where they live on park ice and migrate up to 2,500km each year between breeding grounds and summering areas. They come together for breeding and molting and form groups of several thousand seals. Adult Harp Seals measure up to 6ft in length, and weigh about 300lbs. They are carnivores, and are able to dive to 100m and hold their breath for 15min.

Pup (Image Source)
Harp Seals come together in large groups to mate. This usually happens right after weaning the previous season's pup. After mating, female Harp Seals are able to delay implantation, allowing her to give birth when pack ice is available. You seals are born a camouflaging white, and will feed off an extremely high-fat milk for about the first two weeks of their life. Once the pups have reached about 80lb, they are very abruptly weaned and left on their own. Pups will go through an extensive molting process before finally achieving their adult coats at sexual maturity at the age of 4-6. Harp Seals are so named because of a harp-shaped pattern found on the sides of the adult seals.

The fluffy white coats of newborn Harp Seals as made them very desirable. Harp Seals are one of the most commercially important of all the Seals, and though the hunts are now regulated in most areas, hundreds of thousands of Harp Seals are killed each year.

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