What is taxonomy?
Spotted seals look much like the North Pacific harbor seal, but the harbor seal is not found in the pack ice. They can dive up to 1000 feet. Some spotted seals have been seen as far south as the Northern Yellow Sea.
- Spotted seal are the only seal that breeds in China!
- Spotted seals and harbor seals were once thought to be the same species!
- In the spring, spotted seals will form small groups of a male, female and her pup.
- In the summer spotted seals will use the costal haulouts, one reason for this is so they can haulout and be warmed by the sun!
- Spotted seal pups take longer than other ice seals to learn to swim and dive!
What I should know about spotted seals!
- Where do spotted seals live?
- How many spotted seals are there?
- How can I identify a spotted seal?
- What do spotted seals eat?
- How do spotted seals have their young?
- How long do spotted seals live? How do they die?
- Where can I find more information about spotted seals?
Spotted seals are distributed along the continental shelf of the Beaufort, Chukchi, Bering, and Okhotsk Seas, south to the northern Yellow Sea and western Sea of Japan.
There is no accurate population count at this time, but it is estimated that there are under 300,000.
Spotted seals are wary and hard to get close to. Adult spotted seals are silvery-gray with dark grey on the back and covered with brown to black irregular spots. Pups are born with a white coat but molt to the adult colors after 3 or 4 months. It is believed they winter in the Bering Sea. Following the ice front, they travel north in the spring and summer. They then reverse the process and follow the developing ice south in the fall. Spotted seals may get to be 270 pounds, but males and females average 180 to 240 pounds. Length of grown seals is between 4.5 and 5.5 feet. Newborn pups weigh 18 to 26 pounds (8 to 12 kg) and average about 33 inches (84 cm) long.
Spotted seals eat many things, depending on the season and their location, including Arctic cod, sand lance, sculpins, flatfishes, cephalopods, and a variety of shrimps.
Spotted sea pups are born anytime from early February to the first part of May, depending on their location. Pups are white and weigh 18 to 26 pounds. They are nursed for three to six weeks, during which time they more than double in weight. During the first few weeks after weaning, pups seem to spend most of their time on the ice, but they do not enter the water. Apparently, they slowly achieve proficiency at diving and feeding.
The life span of spotted seals is believed to be up to 35 years.
Spotted seals experience little predation. However, the predators of the spotted seal include the polar bear, sharks, Steller sea lions, brown bears, humans and walrus. Wolves, foxes and large birds have been known to feed on pups.
- National Marine Mammal Laboratory Library
- Seal Conservation Society
- Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Notebook Series
This portion of the NMML website is intended for a student audience and their educators.
Information within the education website should not be cited in scientific journals or publications.