Common Name: Harbor seal
Latin Name: Phoca vitulina
Size/weight: Between 5 and 6 feet long; 175 – 225 pounds. Males are sometimes larger.
Range: Harbor seals can be found throughout the northern Atlantic, along both coasts.
Habitat: Harbor seals “haul out” on offshore rocks and sand bars in the Sound that are exposed during low tide. The term “haul out” refers both to the location like a rock where the seal is resting (the “haul out” site) and to the action of a seal climbing out of the water onto land (to “haul out”).
Diet: Varies regionally, but generally consists of fish, crabs, lobster and squid.
Predators: Main predators include killer whales and sharks. Large eagles, coyotes and gulls have been known to prey on seal pups.
Description: Harbor seals range in color from brown, tan, light grey and silver with dark spots. Their thick short coat is made of coarse guard hairs and finer, but denser under hairs.
Conservation Note: Since the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972, harbor seal populations have been rebounding from depletion by hunting and other threats. The generally improving health of Long Island Sound also seems to be a factor in the seals’ return.