Harbour Seal


Latin Name: Phoca vitulina


How often & when do we see them?

This Pinniped is most common sighted in the waters around Victoria and Vancouver Island. We spot these cute guys lying around on exposed rocks and along the coastline on almost every adventure we embark on.

Size & Description

Harbour seals are true seals, Phocid, as they do not have any external ear flaps. Mature males reach up to about 6 ft (2m) in length and weigh up to 300 pounds (140kg), with mature females being slightly smaller. Their colours are quite distinct, generally white with black blotches and dots.


Diet & Feeding


Their diet generally consists of small fish, such as rockfish and greenlings among others. They commonly dive down to about 300m to hunt for food and rely on their whiskers and huge black eyes to find prey.


Interesting Facts

Diving - Like all true seals, they have an incredible ability to dive underwater for extended periods of time. 25 minutes is the common dive time for a mature male, which can extend down to over 300m. A handy tactic they have evolved is the ability to reduce their heart rate, which allows them to conserve oxygen for longer, which means deeper and longer dives.

Hunting - It is common to see harbour seals around marinas and shallow waters swimming on their backs. It is believed that they are actually keeping an eye on their potential prey whilst breathing. This is actually seen continuously around our dock and office.



Threats & Conservation

Currently, the population is over 127,000 and is at record levels in BC, even though these pinnipeds tend to be a favourite snack for Transient Orca. A grown male will consume around three harbous seals a day! However, this rapid feasting doesn't even put a dent in the large population in the local area.


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