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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
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

Zoolights is coming!

Traditional Zoolights returns Nov. 27 – Jan. 3, with health and safety precautions.   Zoolights will return this holiday season to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium with new safety protocols and the traditional light displays that have lit up the community for the past 32 years. “We are thrilled to continue the longstanding tradition of … Continued

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Celebrating Sea Otters

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is home to three sea otters in the Rocky Shores habitat. Every September, one week is dedicated to bringing awareness to sea otters. Sea otters are endangered, having been hunted nearly to extinction for their thick fur. Now protected, they are still at great risk from oil spill, parasites that … Continued

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Rockfish Recompression

Aquarist John Foster cradled the vermilion rockfish gently in two hands, submersed. Anesthetized, it lay still as veterinarian Dr. Kadie Anderson took a quick documentary photo of its eyes, which bulged to each side. Then Foster lowered the fish – now fully awake – into a water-filled container that looked something like sci-fi author Jules … 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!