The Harp seal can be found in both coastal waters or on pack ice, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and across the Arctic to Siberia.

Breeding

Takes place between February and April. Pregnant cows and juveniles reach the breeding grounds in early February, and each cow picks a sheltered spot on the ice for the birth. She then defends this site from other females.

The pup is born at the end of winter, weighing 12kg, unable to swim, but with a wonderful coat of white fur. It feeds on its mother's very rich milk for just two weeks.

Suckling is brief because the mother cannot feed while she is suckling, and pups are in danger from polar bears until they are able to swim. Just before the pup is weaned, its mother will be mated by a bull seal. After it is weaned, the pup stays on the ice for about two weeks to moult its baby fur. It does not feed during this time and so loses some weight. When it does take to the water, it fends for itself immediately, catching mainly crabs.

Read More: The harp seal and humans

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