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Harp Seals

Seals are mammals that live in the sea. The harp seal, hooded seal and ringed seal live in the Arctic Ocean.

The ringed seal got its name from the marks ( that look like rings ) on its body. It is the smallest seal - about a meter and a half long (five feet)

The Young

In spring, the female comes on land or on the pack ice to give birth to her babies ( pups ).

A ringed seal gives birth to her pups in a small den in the snow on top of the ice. This shelters them from their enemies. The pup stays in the den for about 6 weeks feeding on the mother's rich milk. The mother returns to the water to feed herself. Sometimes she makes more than one den, so she can move the pup if there is danger.

Harp seals are born with fluffy white fur coats. The mother takes care of the pup for about ten days. As soon as the pup has a layer of thick blubber under its skin it is ready to go into the water. The white coat turns to gray.

Adaptation

The baby harp seal's white coat makes it hard for enemies to spot the young seal on the ice.

Seals are clumsy on land but are very good swimmers. Their strong flippers and smooth bodies help them move easily in the water. Seals are able to dive deep and can stay under water for half an hour.

The seals' fur and a thick layer of fat under their skin helps them to keep warm in the freezing cold water.

Seals are mammals and need to come up for air. If ice forms on the surface of the water they gnaw ( chew) the ice to make breathing holes. They also bash the ice with their heads.

Food

They eat fish, squid and krill ( shrimp-like animals).

Enemies

Arctic foxes and polar bears hunt the seal.

Today there are laws protecting seals from hunters.
Some of the Inuit people who live in the Arctic are able to hunt for a few seals each year.