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Harp Seal Diet

Rajib Singha
The harp seal diet consists of a wide variety of foods that the habitat provides the animal with. Know more on this subject and some interesting facts about this creature from this article.
It fancies swimming in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, more than spending time on land. It lives in the wild for an average age of 20 years, and can hold its breath under water for about 15 minutes. This animal which I am talking about is none other than harp seal, scientifically known as Pagophilus groenlandica.
This scientific name has a significance attached to it. It means 'ice lover from Greenland'. This silvery-gray, fluffy creature has all the capabilities to survive the dropping mercury in its habitat.
The animal's thick coat of blubber does the work of keeping the body insulated, and as a source of energy during scarcity of foods or when fasting. When the seal lies on top of the ice, it makes use of its flippers to reduce heat loss.

What Does a Harp Seal Eat?

The harp seal is an opportunistic hunter, that feeds on a wide variety of food, available in its habitat. Its diet comprises crabs, eels, shrimp, squids, capelin, plaice, salmon, herring, polar and Arctic cod, plankton and a lot other types of fish and crustaceans. What more do these seals eat?
Other items in the menu that are available in the harp seal habitat, include octopus, flounder, smelt, plankton, anchovies, and jellyfish. As far as the juveniles are concerned, they are fed on the mother's milk. When they make it to the water, they fend for themselves, feeding mainly for crabs.
While hunting for food, these swimmers can make up to 100 m deep in the water. Some have even gone up to depths of 274 m.
One important fact about the diversified diet for harp seals is, they have evolved over time with sharp eyesight and superior hearing and sensing powers. They can view their preys even in the dimly lit Arctic waters. While hunting under water, they close their nose and smell nothing.
It is their whiskers, with the help of which they sense even the lightest of movement of their potential preys. Smaller preys are usually savored under water. However, if the catch is big, then it is brought to the surface for lunch.

Harp Seal Facts

  • The animal is earless
  • When a harp seal is born, its coat is yellow-white in color. Post about 3 days, the coat turns white and remains so for another 2 weeks
  • The creature earns its name from the harp-shaped black patches on its back, which it develops in adulthood
  • One of the must-know harp seal facts is associated with the ability of the mother seal to distinguish its baby from hundreds of others. And this it does merely with the help of scent
  • 1.7 to 2.0 m (5 to 6 feet) in length and 140 to 190 kg (300 to 400 pounds) in weight, accounts for the average statistics of an adult
  • This animal spends most of its lifetime in the salty water and can still maintain an amazing eyesight. How? Thanks to its constantly tear-covered cornea, the eyes are always protected from salt
  • Harp seals love to socialize, and spend their lives in large colonies
  • During the mating season, adults make use of over 19 types of sounds, with the purpose of courting and mating
  • What would happen to your weight loss plan if you start gaining 2.2 (5 lb) kg every day, for 12 days? The result may be scary for you, but not for harp seal juveniles, which actually gain so much of weight
  • The polar bear and killer shark are known to be the main predators of this seal
To conclude, every year hundreds of thousands of these animals are slaughtered. Although the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) regards this species under the 'Least Concerned' category, if its hunting continues on a large-scale, then it won't take long for it to be included in the list of the endangered species. 
This is why it is important to understand the importance of stringent laws which can put a leash on the hunting rage of these beautiful swimmers of the sea.