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.
- Aleutian Harbor Seal Telemetry Study
- 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)
- JANSEN, J. K., G. M. BRADY, J. M. Ver HOEF, and P. L. BOVENG.
2015. Spatially estimating disturbance of harbor seals Phoca vitulina. PLoS ONE 10:e0129798. (Open Access). Online.
- JANSEN, J. K., P. L. BOVENG, J. M. Ver HOEF, S. P. DAHLE, and J. L. BENGTSON.
2015. Natural and human effects on harbor seal abundance and spatial distribution in an Alaskan glacial fjord. Mar. Mammal Sci. 31:66-89. (.pdf, 800 KB). Online.
- 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.
- Search the AFSC database for additional Harbor Seal publications
- Monitoring the Small and Remote Population of Harbor Seals on Otter Island in the Pribilof
2.05 MB Online.
- Location, Location, Location: Is the Largest Harbor Seal Haulout in the World Any Different From the Others?
10.97 MB Online.
- Harbor Seal Movement, Dive, and Haul-Out Behaviors Near Adak Island, Alaska
1.69 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