Wildlife Fact Sheets

Harp Seal

Harp Seal

Harp Seal

Pagophilus groenlandicus

  • Life Span
    About 20 years (in the wild)
  • Habitat
    I spend most of my time in the water, but occasionally you can find me on land.
  • Range
    My family and I can be found in the waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic (depending on the season).
  • Preferred Food
    Crustaceans and fish


You might recognize me as one of the Arctic’s most iconic (and adorable!) species. I spend most of the year in the chilly waters of the Arctic and north Atlantic—I actually don’t spend much time on land at all except to give birth. If you see large colonies of harp seals on the ice, it’s likely a group of us caring for our pups!

Believe it or not, the photos above are my baby pictures! My fluffy, white fur helped camouflage me from predators when I was a pup. As I got older, I shed the white coat for a gray one that is better accommodated to life in the water. Now, as an adult, I can spend up to 15 minutes completely submerged before coming back up to the surface for air.

Did You Know?

I’m a really good swimmer. I typically hunt for fish around 300 feet, but can dive to nearly 1,000 feet!

Status and Conservation

Harp seal moms are really good at caring for our babies. Pups are born without blubber, so they need lots of attention from their mothers. They stay warm in their white, fluffy coats while we feed them whenever they’re hungry (which is pretty much all the time). Harp seal milk is half fat—10 times more fat than cow’s milk—to help pups bulk up to survive the harsh winters.

Fast Facts


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