Once entangled, seals may drown if they cannot reach the surface to breathe, or they may drag and swim with attached gear for long distances, ultimately resulting in fatigue, compromised feeding ability, or severe injury, which may lead to reduced reproductive success and death. Juveniles and most females have a silver-to-gray coat with black spots. Like other pinnipeds, harp seals are carnivores. Habitat degradation, However, humans are the primary harp seals predators. The seals display food preferences that appear to be most heavily influenced by prey abundance. The metabolic rate of harp seals does not rise due to the fact that they unite behavioral and anatomical approaches which manage body temperatures. A fully grown harp seal measures around 1.7 – 2.0 meters (5 – 6 feet). Based on the most recent survey, our scientists estimate that there are about 7 million seals in this stock. If exposed to oil, a harp seal’s fur can no longer repel water. Reproduction | Harp Seal Facts. Because of their blubber stores, harp seals accumulate these contaminants in their bodies, threatening their immune and reproductive systems. Harp seals wean when they reach around 80 pounds. NOAA Fisheries is committed to conserving and protecting harp seals. Juveniles molt several times before achieving an adult pelt. Overseeing marine mammal health and stranding response. The seal's scientific name means "ice-lover from Greenland." The pups-molting starts after 1 year. Photo: CC BY 2.0, Virginia State Parks staff. Harp seals are known to spend most of their time in Ocean as compared to the land. Once it sheds its white coat, it learns to swim and hunt. The most significant risk posed by these activities is the accidental or illegal discharge of oil or other toxic substances due to their immediate and potentially long-term effects. Once in the environment, these substances move up the food chain and accumulate in predators near the top, such as harp seals. Annual migrations can be more than 3,100 miles roundtrip. They live mainly in … The maximum lifespan of a harp seal is approximately 30 years. They conserve oxygen by lowering their heart rate by 90%; only the nervous system and … Our scientists collect population information and present the data in annual stock assessment reports. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. Although they live in cold water, harp seal pups are born without any protective fat. Harp seal are listed as "least concern" on the IUCN Red List, and their numbers are increasing. Hundreds of thousands of seals are hunted each year. Our work includes. Climate change causes a reduction in sea ice, forcing seals to move to new areas. Chemical contaminants, Harp seals, like all marine mammals, are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This population growth can be explained by the decrease in seal hunting. Contaminants enter ocean waters from many sources, including oil and gas development, wastewater discharges, urban runoff, and other industrial processes. The breeding takes place in the months of February and April. Normally the color changes in 10 – 12 days. Adult harp seals grow to be from 1.7 to 2 meters (5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 7 in) long and weigh from 115 to 140 kg … They have flippers that operate as heat exchangers and they tend to warm or cool down the blood as per requirements. Harp seal, (Pagophilus, or Phoca, groenlandica), also called saddleback, medium-sized, grayish earless seal possessing a black harp-shaped or saddle-shaped marking on its back. They can become entangled in many different gear types, including gillnets, trawls, purse seines, or weirs. To understand the health of marine mammal populations, scientists study unusual mortality events. Adults molt, or shed, their fur every spring. Harp seals are semi aquatic marine mammals, meaning they spend varying amounts of lives in the water and on ice. Pups molt several times during their development. Harp seal embraces 48% fat therefore, pups can gain weight of 2.2 kg (4.9 lb) each day. Today, seal hunting mainly occurs in Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia. Harp seals gather on pack ice in large groups during breeding and molting seasons. After weaning, adult females leave their pups on the pack ice. Adult harp seals have light gray fur with a black mask on their face and a curved black patch on their back. The pups stay on the ice without eating for about six weeks. They can lose up to half of their body weight before they enter the water and start feeding on their own. Why are Red Pandas Endangered? Birth takes place on sea ice and is extremely fast, taking as little as 15 seconds. To minimize the effect of a potential spill on harp seals, NOAA developed the Marine Mammal Oil Spill Response Guidelines. The harp seal is the best-known seal species. These pups will not swim until 7 – 8 weeks or when the ice melts. The average lifespan of these animals is 20 years. They give the animal a sense of touch on land and the ability to detect movement underwater. They often travel away from the pack ice during the summer and follow the ice north to feed in the Arctic. On the back of harp seal, there is wishbone-shaped spotting. This makes it difficult for the seal to swim, float, and keep warm. A professional writer and a passionate wildlife enthusiast, who is mostly found hooked to his laptop or in libraries researching about the wildlife. Whether the seals can adapt to such change is unknown. Harp seals can migrate for very long distances while searching for food sources. DON’T KILL THE HARP SEALS!!!! Learn who you should contact when you encounter a stranded or injured marine animal >. Harp seals are about 5 to 6 feet long, weigh about 260 to 300 pounds, and have a robust body with a small, flat head. To manage harp seals in U.S. waters, we have grouped them into western North Atlantic stock. Harp seals can become entangled in fishing gear and other types of marine debris, either swimming off with the gear attached or becoming anchored. 3. The initial IHA authorized take of five species of marine…, NOAA Fisheries issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to Scripps Institution of Oceanography to incidentally harass, by Level B and Level A harassment, marine mammals during a low-energy marine geophysical survey in the Northwest Atlantic…, NOAA Fisheries has issued regulations pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to govern the taking of marine mammals incidental to the training and testing activities conducted in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) Study Area…, Stay informed of all the latest regional news around NOAA Fisheries. Females weigh around 260 lb and are up to 5.9 ft in length. Harp seal pups have long, wooly, white fur known as lanugo that lasts until about 3 to 4 weeks old. It is associated with the genus Pagophilus. Scientists observe harp seals to record their numbers and distribution. I think that people shouldnt kill harp seals, I think when they are babys that they should be marked or tagged so that hunters dont kill them. Harp seals, like all marine mammals, are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone in the United States. Learn more about our estimates for population size in our stock assessment reports. , an unusual mortality event (UME) is defined as "a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response.". Vessel strikes, Birth, weaning, and mating all occur during the same breeding season. Newborns quickly develop a thick layer of blubber while nursing. NOAA Fisheries is committed to the protection of harp seals. After a gestation period of about 11.5 months, the mother usually gives birth to a single pup, although twins sometimes occur. Harp seals are vulnerable to vessel collisions throughout their range, but the risk is much higher in some coastal areas with heavy ship traffic. Learn more about “Share the Shore” guidelines. Oil spills and water pollution subject the species to heavy chemical contamination and decrease its food supply. At birth, the pup's coat is stained yellow from amniotic fluid, but it quickly turns pure white. Internet Explorer lacks support for the features of this website. Learn more about the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. Be responsible when viewing marine life in the wild. They have large eyes which is embedded with a greater spherical lens thereby enhances its concentrating ability. The mother stops nursing and abandons the pup when it's time to mate. The males establish dominance by fighting each other using teeth and flippers. The harp seal also known a saddleback seal or Greenland Seal, (Pagophilus groenlandicus) is a species of earless seal, or true seal, native to the northernmost Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Ocean.Originally in the genus Phoca with a number of other species, it was reclassified into the monotypic genus Pagophilus in 1844. Three populations in the Barents Sea, East Coast of Greenland, and Northwest Atlantic Ocean are recognized based on geographic distribution as well as morphological, genetic, and behavioral differences. The results of this research are used to inform management decisions for this species. Females give birth from late February through mid-March. Harp seals are the victims of the largest slaughter of marine mammals in the world: the Canadian seal hunt. They will only give birth during the short period of time when pack ice is available, as the ice provides a place to nurse their pups. To understand the health of marine mammal populations, scientists study unusual mortality events.
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