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Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina) Monterey Bay, Monterey, California, USA. Photo by Hal Brindley

Harbor Seal

(Phoca vitulina)

The Harbor Seal is the most widely distributed Pinniped (seals & walruses) on the planet! It can be found on shorelines all across the Northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, from temperate zones to the arctic.

Many seal species are born with a downy white coat and moult into their adult coat soon after. But harbor seal pups shed their wooly baby coat inside the womb and are born with their adult coats!

When Harbor Seals dive to look for food (primarily fish) they don’t hold their breath, they expel it! This prevents compression of gasses within the body and the resultant decompression sickness when surfacing. They store the necessary oxygen in their blood and tissues. According to one study, the longest dive recorded for a Harbor Seal was 31 minutes! Imagine holding your breath for 31 minutes!

Photo: Monterey Bay, Monterey, California, USA