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Harbour seals, also known as the common seal, is the most widely distributed pinniped in the world. Harbour seals sport a varying range of colours; however, all have a spotted coat. As these mammals are categorized as ‘true seals’, they lack external ear flaps and move by a crawling motion. Unlike the larger sea lions, harbour seals do not have pronounced hip joints and so use a flopping motion when on land. A common nickname for this marine mammal is “rock sausage” as they are commonly seen basking on rocks, for up to 10 hours a day, and are the preferred meal of Killer Whales. As the seals have limited motion on land they are not able to easily crawl up onto rocks. Instead, they position themselves over rocky outcrops while tides are high. As the tide recedes, they are left to bask on the rocks.

When in the water, they are proficient divers. They can dive to depths of 1,500 feet for up to 40 minutes at a time. Harbour seals are officially classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List given their global population of 350,000-500,000 individuals. This high population number is largely due to their surprisingly long lifespans of up to 30 years. Females become sexually mature at around three years old and can have a pup every year for the rest of their lives! A fun fact about seal pups, their mothers do not teach them how to hunt, they learn all on their own!

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