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Harp Seals Kingdom- Animalia Phylum- Chordata Class- Mammalia Order- Canivora Family- Phocidae Genus-Pagophilus Species: Pagophilus groenlandicus • By Jessica Haney
Description Harp Seals are called the “ear-less seals” not because they can’t hear but because they do not have external ear flaps • They have a round and stout body, compared to their small flat head, and a small narrow snout. They have eight pars of teeth on the top and bottom of their jaw, made for eating fish and munching on crustaceans • Their front flippers are tipped with sturdy, thick claws. However they have longer and more narrow claws on their hind flippers. • Phocids or Harp Seals can not maneuver these back flippers in such a way as to be able to walk. Instead their front flippers are used like ores to pull themselves across land. •
Description • • • Baby Harp Seals are about 3 feet long at birth and weigh about 25 lbs. They are a caramel yellow color at birth but it fades to white quickly. At this time they are illegal to hunt They are covered in thick, long white fur known as “Lanugo” but go through a complicated series of molting processes as they become adults. Adults can grow to be approximately 5 -6 ft long, and get up to 300 lbs. Their fur is light with a dark pattern on their back that resembles a harp, hence the name Harp Seals
Breeding • Males are thought to be polygamous, but it has not been proven. • Not a lot is known about their breeding habits, mainly because mating occurs in the water. • About four to five years old the males begin to produce sperm although may not become successful breeders until older. • Females are about four or even seven years old before giving birth for the first time and give birth to one pup a year.
Behavior Females Cluster in large gatherings but do not group together Females lactate for about twelve days. About 48 % of their milk is fat. The mothers will leave their baby on the ice for approximately six weeks, before the pup enters the water to feed on their own The males are absent at this time. As the ice melts the seals will migrate north to continue feeding.
World Range and Habitat Harp Seals are found in Newfoundland Russia and north east Canada. There Habitats include the Arctic Ocean and Northern Atlantic. They thrive in cold environments and are usually found on the Arctic Pack Ice. This is where they find most of their favorite foods like the North Atlantic Cod.
World Range and Habitat
Feeding Ecology (Diet) With a choice between 140 different species (70 fish and 70 invertebrates) these Harp Seals have a broad diet However as ice caps shrink so does their menu populations of favorite species of fish and crustaceans are dropping and they must travel farther up north to find food.
Threats Predators to the Harp Seal include Killer Whales, Sharks, and Polar Bares However their biggest Threats are People
Human Impact on Species Loss of sea ice, Pollution, Oil Spills, Interactions with fishing gear, Over fishing, Shootings, Human expansions, and Boat strikes are all human caused threats to this species. None of these combined however hold a candle to the Canadian Seal Hunts.
Canadian Seal Hunts In the first two week of their lives the baby seals have the pelts called Whitecoats, as they begin to molt sealers and hunters descend on their pack of ice and bludgeon them to death. After, they skin them and leave the bloody carcasses to rot on the ice. This is dangerous to their species because Harp Seals only have one pup a year. On average every spring over 325, 000 seals are killed for there coats and oils from their body.
Canadian Seal Hunts In a three year period groups such as The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans ( DFO) killed a quota of 975, 000 harp seals as well as 30, 000 adult hood seals. • The Canadian government said that seal hunts did not hurt the harp seal ( and other seal’s) population. Yet their numbers are decreasing at an alarming rate. There are no clear numbers because there have been no population surveys since 1990’s. •
Caution! The following Slide contains content that may be Disturbing to some viewers
• Sources • http: //marinebio. org/species. asp? id=302 • http: //www. iucnredlist. org/apps/redlist/details /41671/0 • http: //icesjms. oxfordjournals. org/search? fullt ext=harp+seal&sortspec=date&submit=Sub mit&andorexactfulltext=phrase • http: //www. climate. org/topics/ecosystems/se als-battle-climatechange. html • http: //www. harpseals. org/ • http: //www. tigerhomes. org/animal/harpseal. cfm • http: //photography. nationalgeographic. com/ photography/photo-of-the-day/baby-harpseal-canada. html