Harbor seals inhabit coastal and estuarine waters off Baja California, north along the western coasts of the United States, British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska, west through the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands, and in the Bering Sea north to Cape Newenham and the Pribilof Islands. They haul out on rocks, reefs, beaches, and drifting glacial ice, and feed in marine, estuarine, and occasionally fresh waters. Harbor seals generally are non-migratory, with local movements associated with such factors as tides, weather, season, food availability, and reproduction. However, some long-distance movements of tagged harbor seals have been recorded, mostly among juvenile animals. The harbor seal breeding season follows a cline along the coast of North America, with pups born earlier in the south than in the north; the only exception is harbor seals in the inland waters of Washington which are born 2 months later than seals at the same latitude along the coast. There is little sexual dimorphism in harbor seals; adult males are 1.4 to 1.9 m long and weigh up to 140 kg; females are 1.2 to 1.7 m and weigh up to 80 kg.; pups are 7 to 8 kg at birth.
- Ice Seal Distribution Data
- Current Research Projects by the Polar Ecosystems Program
- Current Research Projects by the California Current Ecosystems Program
- Publications: search AFSC database for Harbor Seals
- Posters: search AFSC database for Harbor Seals
- Quarterly Reports
- The Science Behind Harbor Seal Monitoring (Video)
- LUXA, K., and A. ACEVEDO-GUTIERREZ.
2013. Food habits of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) in two estuaries in the central Salish Sea. Aquat. Mamm. 39:10-22.
- HIGGS, M. D., and J. M. Ver HOEF.
2012. Discretized and aggregated: Modeling dive depth of harbor seals from ordered categorical data with temporal autocorrelation. Biometrics 68:965-974.
- LONDON, J. M., J. M. Ver HOEF, S. J. JEFFRIES, M. M. LANCE, and P. L. BOVENG.
2012. Haul-out behavior of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) in Hood Canal, Washington. PLoS One 7(6):e38180. (.pdf, 449 KB). Online.
- HUBER, H. R., S. J. JEFFRIES, D. M. LAMBOURN, and B. R. DICKERSON.
2010. Population substructure of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) in Washington State using mtDNA. Can. J. Zool. 88: 280-288.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Harbor Seal publications
- Abundance, Trends, and Population Viability of Harbor Seals in Iliamna Lake
16.2 MB Online.
- A Balancing Act for Harbor Seals on Ice: Weighing Long-term Protection for Seals with a Growing Interest in Vessel-based Tourism
7.12 MB Online.
- Estimating Productivity and Pup Growth Using Aerial Imagery of Harbor Seals on Ice
7.31 MB Online.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Harbor Seal posters
- Alaska stocks *(previously separated as Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, and Southeast Alaska stocks): 2012, 2011
- California: 2011, 2005, 2003, 2001 2000
- Oregon-Washington Coastal: 2010, 2007, 2003, 2002, 2000, 1998
- Washington Inland: 2010, 2003, 2002, 2000, 1998
- Western North Atlantic: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1995
- Bering Sea (in 2011, combined into one Alaska stock report): 2009 2007 2006 1998
- Gulf of Alaska (in 2011, combined into one Alaska stock report): 2009 2007 2006 1998
- Southeast Alaska (in 2011, combined into one Alaska stock report): 2009 2007 2006 1998