Skip to main content

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 chats daily. Bring your questions and watch them work!
Zookeeper Life: Stephanie

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

Meet Clara the Sea Otter

CLARA THE SEA OTTER MAKES DEBUT She’s calm and patient – and loves participating in training and enrichment sessions with her keepers. Clara, the newest southern sea otter, made her … Continued

Read More
Penguin Nesting Season

It’s penguin nesting season at the Zoo! As of late April, keepers had observed three eggs laid from penguin pairs Yellow & Orange (1 egg) and Pink & Red (2 … Continued

Read More
Pufflings Are Here!

On a rainy, late-summer morning in Tacoma, keeper Cindy is watching the puffins. She’s drenched, but that’s just part of the job she loves. The “unglamorous” part of keeper life … Continued

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