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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.
Our keepers give unscheduled chats daily, to avoid congestion. Bring your questions and watch them work!

Meet our seals!

Qilak
Saya
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

Playing Bass for Blizzard

It wasn’t your average concert situation. Fingers chilling in the February breeze, I stood with my double bass poised on the grassy edge of a deep moat. My endpin and boots were planted in winter mud. Somewhere nearby, a bird sang. I drew my bow across the strings, beginning a low ripple and expanding out … Continued

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Sea Otter Surgery

Dr. Karen Wolf, left, and Dr. Caitlin Hadfield prepare Sekiu for surgery. NOTE: Graphic visual content further down the post. On a cold winter’s morning at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Animal Health Care, head veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf did an unusual thing during surgery: She put a fresh ice pack on her patient’s chest. … Continued

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2020 Year in Photos

What a year this has been! From clouded leopard AI to a new muskox calf, from Zoolights to HeroRATs and everything in between, we’ve captured this year in our best photos of 2020.  

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