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.


Daily life

Illustration of a Harp SealUnlike sea lions and eared seals which use their fore flippers for propulsion, harp seals use their hind flippers in a side-to-side action to propel themselves through the water. They are born with white fur, but this darkens in adulthood, and they develop irregular black patches on their backs. These patches are often harp-shaped, which is how the seal gets its name.

Their lives are governed by the movements of pack ice throughout the year. All populations migrate south before the spring breeding season.

They travel in groups of ten or more, but these groups are often parts of a much larger herd, which dives, leaps and swims in unison. In May, after breeding and moulting, they head back to their northern feeding grounds.

Read More: Food and feeding

Related Resources

Please donate £1 to help YPTE to continue its work of inspiring young people to look after our world.

Donate £1 X