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Harp Seal Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lauren Scott

Lauren has a Master's degree in special education and has taught for more than 10 years.

This lesson introduces you to the beautiful harp seal. You will learn about the habitat, diet, and life cycle of this unique Arctic dweller. Bundle up, and have fun!

Meet the Harp Seal

Your toboggan flies through the Arctic landscape, zipping past mounds of ice and snow. As you slide to a halt to admire the scenery, one of those snow mounds blinks at you! You look more closely, and realize those two big brown eyes don't belong to a snow monster. It's just a white, fluffy harp seal pup. As cute as he is, you don't stick around too long. His momma is close by, and she won't be happy if you bother her baby!

Baby harp seals are known for their fluffy white coat.
Harp seal pup

The little guy you just met is what most people think of when they hear about harp seals, but his cute face doesn't tell the whole story. In fact, he will only look like that for a few days before his grown-up fur stars to grow. Before too long, he'll be over 6 feet long, and could weigh up to 400 pounds.

Female harp seals are nearly identical to males, only a teeny bit smaller. All adult harp seals have a brownish-black harp-shaped marking that drapes over their shoulders and backs. This marking also gives them the nickname 'saddlebacks'.

Home for a Harp Seal

An adult harp seal rests on the ice.
harp seal

Harp seals are ice pack seals, meaning they seek out large, stable sheets of ice to rest and have their babies. They spend most of their time in the ocean. Harp seals live in the Arctic, and in the far north Atlantic. They are very common in Greenland, but are also found in parts of Asia and Russia. Harp seals migrate during the year, and have been seen on beaches as far south as Virginia in the United States.

Harp seals can be found in groups on pack ice.
harp seal group

Harp seals eat fish like cod, herring, and capelin. They will eat small shrimp-like animals called krill in the summer.

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