Harbor seal

Latin Name
Phoca vitulina concolor




Harbor seals can reach up to six feet in length, with males being slightly larger than females. Specially adapted flippers help the aquatic species move quickly through the water while a thick coat of waterproof fur helps the species stay warm in its cold-water habitat. Harbor seals can range from light gray to dark brown in color, and their fur is typically accented with a number of colored spots and rings.



Harbor seals range widely and can be found throughout the north Atlantic and north Pacific.


Common. Seals are protected from hunting within U.S. waters.


This species inhabits islands, beaches and sandbars throughout its range. Much of its time is spent hunting food in the water.


Harbor seals feed on fish, mollusks, squid and crustaceans. They are vulnerable to predation by great white sharks and humans.

Life History

Harbor seals return to the same breeding grounds every year to find mates. Males compete for the ability to breed females. After breeding, females give birth to a pup on land; young are able to swim and dive within hours of birth.

Bonus Content

Seal Training and Feeding
What do the zoo’s harbor seals learn in their daily training sessions? Curator of Mammals Mark Kamhout offers an inside look in this special video.

A harbor seal plays with pumpkin enrichment for Halloween.

Halloween Fun for the Animals
To get a head start on Halloween, we offered the animals pumpkins to play with! See species from fruit bats to harbor seals enjoying the edible enrichment.

Three harbor seals share the water at the zoo's Kovler Sea Lion Pool.

Field Note: Harbor Seal
Meet the harbor seals that live in the zoo's Kovler Sea Lion Pool--and learn how this species socializes and hunts in the wild.

A fresh, fishy snack makes for an encouraging rewarding during daily seal training and enrichment sessions.

Seal Enrichment Slideshow
Twice a day the zoo’s harbor seals participate in voluntary training sessions—and receive scaly treats for doing so! See the process with a special slideshow.

One of the harbor seals peers out of his new home. Photo by Megan Ross.

Post from the President—New Seals Swimming
President and CEO Kevin Bell shares the zoo's newest arrivals: three harbor seals from Sea World. See how the new group is making a splash.