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Harbor seal

Did you know?

Phoca vitulina

Seals have beautiful big eyes. But they’re also great for seeing underwater, thanks to flattened corneas that take in more light.

Discover seals

Habitat
Wild and Zoo
Harbor seals live near piers and beaches along temperate subarctic and Arctic coastlines in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. They also live in Puget Sound. Find ours in Rocky Shores.
Rocky Shores
Meet the keepers
They get wet too.
Meet our keepers every day at 3pm at the Marine Mammal Keeper Chat. They’ll be somewhere around the walruses, sea lions, seals or otters – bring your questions and watch them work!
See daily schedule

Meet our seals!

Qilak
Saya
Shila
Eating
(and predators!)
Harbor seals love to eat fish and crustaceans, which they find by detecting sound waves with their whiskers.
They are hunted by sharks, orcas, polar bears and humans.
Slapping
for a mate.
Males attract females by slapping their bodies on the water, blowing bubbles and vocalizing.
Females give birth in the water, usually to a single pup which they nurse with a high-fat milk that helps them grow quickly.
I'm okay!
(Mom's gone fishing.)
Seals hunt alone but haul out in groups on land to rest, avoid predators, socialize and breed.
If you see a seal pup on a beach, leave it alone! Mom is probably nearby fishing, and will come back soon.

Protecting seals

Tangled and oil-coated

THE THREAT: While harbor seals are widespread, they live near humans and face human-caused threats: oil spills, chemical pollutants, entanglement in fishing debris and human harassment.

TAKE ACTION: You can help all sea animals by speaking up against off-shore oil drilling, and doing the right thing with plastic trash. Refuse single-use plastic altogether.

 

Marine Stories

New deputy director Sarah Oliver

Olympia, Washington native comes from South Sound career of nonprofit “servant leadership.”   For Sarah Oliver, leadership is all about helping people achieve their mission. The Olympia, Washington native with a career in nonprofit leadership is bringing her people-focused expertise to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium as its new deputy director. The position oversees all … Continued

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Partnering for Polar Bears

Glue? Tape? Dye? It’s all part of our mission to help protect polar bears in the wild, with a new scientific study that Zoo guests may soon watch in action. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, with its beloved polar bears Boris and Blizzard, has worked for years with the non-profit Polar Bears International (PBI) to … Continued

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Polar Bear Ambassador

It’s a long way from Tacoma, Washington to Churchill, Manitoba: about 1,420 miles as the crow flies, at least eight hours by plane. There’s no road. In icy isolation on Canada’s Hudson Bay, it’s a world away from the lush, evergreen Puget Sound region. The thing the two towns have in common? Polar bears – … Continued

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Who's Nearby?
Love our seals? Then look out for our sea otters, just nearby in the Rocky Shores pools!