Wild Times Archive

Harbour Seals

Arctic Shores at the Edmonton Valley Zoo is home to four playful and entertaining harbour seals.

The female quartet ranges from 11 to 18 years of age. Hula, Wasabi, Millie, and Sushi spend their days darting around their indoor and outdoor saltwater pools, and resting poolside to watch the crowds. Along with sea lions and walruses, these furry mammals are known as pinnipeds, meaning flipper-footed. Long, flat flippers, each with five webbed digits, propel them with speed and agility through the water. Thick layers of subcutaneous fat provides energy and insulation in the cold water. Unlike a sea lion, seals don’t have ear flaps.

They can reach up to 1.9 m (6 ft) long and can weigh up to 160 kg (352 lbs).

Salt walter shorelines north of the equator in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Often seen near piers, beaches, and intercostal islands.

Mostly fish (cod, herring, salmon) as well as squid, octopus, crabs, and clams. Each whisker moves independently to feel the vibrations of swimming prey.

Can dive down to 457 m (1,500 ft) but generally forage in shallower waters. To accomplish this feat they stop breathing, slow their heart rate and shunt blood from their extremities to their brains, hearts, and muscles.

One pup per year

Females outlive males – 30-35 years vs. 20-25 years. The longest recorded lifespan was 47 years.

Predators include sharks, killer whales, and polar bears. Humans hunt them for fur, oil and meat. There are no conservation concerns at this time.

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