Harp seal

The harp seal or saddleback seal, Pagophilus groenlandicus is a species of earless seal, or true seal, native to the northernmost Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Ocean. Originally in the genus Phoca with a number of other species, it was reclassified into the monotypic genus Pagophilus in 1844. In Latin, its scientific name translates to "ice-lover from Greenland," and its taxonomic synonym, Phoca groenlandica translates to "Greenlandic seal."[2]

Harp seal
Harp seal
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Clade: Pinnipedia
Family: Phocidae
Genus: Pagophilus
Gray, 1844
P. groenlandicus
Binomial name
Pagophilus groenlandicus
Erxleben, 1777
Sattelrobbe-Phoca groenlandica-World

Phoca groenlandica


Whitecoated pup
Pagophilus groenlandicus 02 MWNH 188
Skull of a harp seal

The mature harp seal has pure black eyes. It has a silver-gray fur covering its body, with black harp or wishbone-shaped markings dorsally. Adult harp seals grow to be 1.7 to 2.0 m (5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 7 in) long and weigh from 115 to 140 kg (254 to 309 lb).[3] The harp seal pup often has a yellow-white coat at birth due to staining from amniotic fluid, but after one to three days, the coat whitens and remains white for 2–3 weeks, until the first molt.[2] Adolescent harp seals have a silver-gray coat spotted with black.


Harp seals are considered sexually dimorphic, as the males are slightly larger, and more decorated. Males weigh an average of 135 kg (298 lb), and reach a length up to 1.9 m (6.2 ft), while females weigh an average of 120 kg (260 lb) and reach up to 1.8 metres (5.9 ft). Males generally have a more defined dorsal harp marking and a darker head, while some females never develop the marking and remain spotted.[2]


Compared to other phocid seals, the harp seal dives from shallow to moderately deep depths.[2] Dive depth varies with season, time of day and location. In the Greenland Sea sub-population, the average dive rate is around 8.3 dives per hour and dives range from a depth of less than 20 to over 500m.[4] Dive duration ranges from less than 2 minutes to just over 20 minutes.[4] During the spring and summer when seals forage along the pack ice in the Greenland Sea, most dives are less than 50m.[4] In the late fall and winter, dive depth has been found to increase, particularly in the Denmark Strait, where the mean dive depth was found to be 141m.[4]

Lactating female harp seals spend about 80% of the time in the water and 20% of the time on the fast-ice weaning or in close proximity to their pups. However, almost half of the time spent in the water is at the surface, which is well beyond what is expected to recover from their dives.[5] This behavior allows the mother harp seal to conserve energy and avoid the harsh conditions of the fast-ice while remaining in close proximity to its pup. As with most phocids, the mother harp seal requires vast amounts of energy to ensure sufficient mass transfer to the growing, weaning pup, however they still remain within their aerobic dive limit for 99% of dives.[5]


Harp seals combine anatomical and behavioral approaches to managing their body temperatures, instead of elevating their metabolic rate and energy requirements.[6] Their lower critical temperature is believed to be under −10 degrees Celsius in air.[7] Blubber insulates the Harp seals core but not the flippers as much, instead the flippers rely on having circulatory adaptations to help prevent heat loss through their flippers.[8] A thick coat of blubber insulates its body and provides energy when food is scarce or during fasting.[9] Blubber also streamlines its body for more efficient swimming. Brown fat warms blood as it returns from the body surface as well as providing energy, most importantly for newly-weaned pups.[2]

Flippers act as heat exchangers, warming or cooling the seal as needed. On ice, the seal can press its fore-flippers to its body and its hind-flippers together to reduce heat loss.[2] They can also redirect blood flow from the periphery to minimize heat loss.[9]


The harp seals' eyes are large for its body size and contain a large spherical lens, which improves its focusing ability. Its pupil is mobile to help it adapt to the intense glare of the Arctic ice. Its retina is rod-dominated and backed by a cat-like and reflective tapetum lucidum, enhancing its low light sensitivity. Its cones are most sensitive to blue-green spectra, while its rods help sense light intensity and may provide some color discrimination. Its cornea is lubricated by lacrimal glands, to protect the eye from sea water damage. The lack of tear glands to drain secretions to the nasal passages contribute to the harp seals "eye rings" on land. This can be an indication of the hydration level of the seal.[2]

Seal showing hydration rings around the eyes due to lacrimal gland secretions. (Note: the animal pictured is Halichoerus grypus rather than Pagophilus groenlandicus.)

On ice, the mother identifies her offspring by smell. This sense may also warn of an approaching predator. Underwater, the seal closes its nostrils and smells nothing.[2]

Its whiskers, called vibrissae, lie in horizontal rows on either side of its snout. They provide a touch sense with labeled line coding, and underwater, also respond to low-frequency vibrations, such as movement.[2]


Similar to most pinnipeds, the harp seal exhibits a carnivorous diet.[10] They have a diverse diet which includes several dozen species of fish and invertebrates.[11] The White Sea population migrates northward in the summer to forage extensively in the Barents Sea, where common prey items include krill, capelin (Mallotus villosus), herring (Clupea harengus), flat fish and gladiform fish.[12] Harp seals are known to exhibit some preference for prey, though the driving force behind the composition of their diet is prey abundance.[13] Diet and abundance analysis of the Svalbard population found that this population feeds predominantly on krill, followed closely by polar cod(Arctogladus glacialis).[12] Some individuals from the Greenland Sea sub-population have been recorded to forage in the Barents Sea alongside the White Sea sub-population during the late summer and fall.[4] The diet of the Barents Sea population is dominated by herring and polar cod but these seals show a negative preference towards krill and amphipods, which is thought to be a result of their tendency towards deeper dives.[13] In the western N. Atlantic population segment, foraging takes place both near and offshore of Newfoundland. The most preferred prey items include Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida), capelin, Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) and American plaice (Hippoglossoides platessoides).[14] As in other populations and foraging areas, diet varies with distance from shore. Arctic cod yields a higher diet percentage nearshore, while capelin is more prominent offshore.[14] However, capelin is understood as the preferred prey item in both locales.[14]

Life history

Harp seals spend relatively little time on land compared with time at sea. These are social animals and can be quite vocal in groups. They form large colonies, within which, smaller groups with their own hierarchy are believed to form.[2] Groups of several thousand form during pupping and mating season.[15] Harp seals are able to live over 30 years in the wild.[2]

On the ice, pups call their mothers by "yelling," and "mumble" while playing with others. Adults "growl" and "warble" to warn off conspecifics and predators.[2] Underwater, adults have been recorded using more than 19 types of vocalization during courting and mating.[2]

Reproduction and Development

The harp seal is a fast ice breeder and is believed to have a promiscuous mating system.[16] Breeding occurs between mid-February and April.[15] Courtship peaks during mid-March and involves males performing underwater displays, using bubbles, vocalizations, and paw movements to court females.[17] Females, who remain on the ice, will resist copulation on unless underwater.[17]

Females mature sexually between ages five to six.[2] Annually thereafter, they may bear one pup, usually in late February.[2] The gestation period lasts about 11.5 months, with a fetal development phase of 8 months.[17] There have been reported cases of twin births, but singletons are vastly more common.[18] The fertilized egg grows into an embryo which remains suspended in the womb for up to three months before implantation, to delay birth until sufficient pack ice is available.[2]

Harp seal births are rapid, with recorded lengths as short as 15 seconds in duration.[17] In order to cope with the shock of a rapid change in environmental temperature and undeveloped blubber layers, the pup relies on solar heating, and behavioral responses such as shivering or seeking warmth in the shade or even water.[17]

Newborn pups weigh 11 kilograms (24 lb) on average and are 80–85 cm (31–33 in) long.[2] After birth, the mother feeds only her own pup. During the approximately 12-day long nursing period, the mother does not hunt, and loses up to 3 kilograms (6.6 lb) per day.[2] Harp seal milk initially contains 25% fat (this number increases to 40% by weaning as the mother fasts) and pups gain over 2.2 kilograms (4.9 lb) per day while nursing, quickly thickening their blubber layer.[17] During this time, the juvenile's "greycoat" grows in beneath the white neonatal coat, and the pup increases its weight to 36 kg (79 lb). Weaning is abrupt; the mother turns from nursing to promiscuous mating, leaving the pup behind on the ice. While courtship starts on the ice, mating usually takes place in the water.

After abandonment, in the post-weaning phase, the pup becomes sedentary to conserve body fat. Within a few days, it sheds its white coat, reaching the "beater" stage.[2] This name comes from the sound a beater's tail makes as the seal learns to swim.[18] Pups begin to feed on at 4 weeks of age, but still draw on internal sources, relying first on stored energy in the body core rather than blubber.[17] During this time the ice begins to melt leaving them vulnerable to polar bears and other predators. This fast can reduce their weight up to 50%. As many as 30% of pups die during their first year, due in part to their early immobility on land.[2]

Juvenile harp seal- a "bedlamer."

Around 13–14 months old, the pup molts again, becoming a "bedlamer".[18] Juveniles molt several times, producing a "spotted harp", before the adults' harp-marked pelt fully emerges after several years (or not at all in females).[2]

Seals congregate annually on the ice to molt, pup and breed before migrating to summer feeding grounds. Their lifespan can be over 30 years.[2]


The current global harp seal population estimates total around 2.25 to 3 million individuals, with 3 distinct breeding stocks: 500,000–800,000 individuals in the Northeast Atlantic, 100,000–150,000 in the Greenland Sea, and 1–1.57 million in the Northwest Atlantic.[17] The largest population in the Northwest Atlantic is estimated to produce 250,000–400,000 young annually.[17] Due to their dependence on pack ice for breeding, the harp seal range is restricted to areas where pack ice forms seasonally.[2] The western North Atlantic stock, which is the largest, is located off eastern Canada.[18] This population is further divided into two separate herds based on the breeding location. The Front herd breeds off the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland, and the Gulf herd breeds near the Magdalen Islands in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. A second stock breeds on the "West Ice" off eastern Greenland. A third stock breeds on the "East Ice" in the White Sea, which is off the north coast of Russia below the Barents ea. Breeding occurs between mid-February and April, and varies somewhat for each stock.[15] The three stocks are allopatric and don't interbreed.[19]

There are two recognised subspecies:[19]

  • Pagophilus groenlandicus groenlandicus – Eastern Canada to Norway
  • Pagophilus groenlandicus oceanicusWhite and Barents seas

Migration and vagrancy

Harp seals are strongly migratory. The northwest population regularly moves up to 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi) northeast outside of the breeding season;[20] one individual was located off the north Norwegian coast, 4,640 kilometres (2,880 mi) east northeast of its tagging location.[21] Their navigational accuracy is high, with good eyesight an important factor.[20][22] They are occasionally found as vagrants, south of their normal range. In Great Britain, a total of 31 vagrants were recorded between 1800 and 1988,[23]

More recently, they reached Lindisfarne in Northumberland in September 1995,[24] and the Shetland Islands in 1987. The latter was linked to a mass movement of harp seals into Norwegian waters; by mid-February 1987, 24,000 were reported drowned in fishing nets and perhaps 30,000,000 (about 10% of the world population) had invaded fjords as far south as Oslo. The animals were emaciated, likely due to humans competing for their prey.[25]

Harp seals can strand on Atlantic coasts, often in warmer months, due to dehydration and parasite load.[26] Harp seals often consume snow to stay hydrated, but in mild winters may not have enough available. Several centers are active in seal rescue and rehabilitation, including IFAW, NOAA, and the New England Aquarium. Harp seals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the United States.

Seal hunting

All 3 populations are hunted commercially, mainly by Canada, Norway, Russia and Greenland.[27]

In Canada, commercial hunting season is from November 15 to May 15. Most sealing occurs in late March in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and during the first or second week of April off Newfoundland, in an area known as "the Front". This peak spring period is generally what is referred to as the "Canadian seal hunt". Hunting Canadian whitecoats has been banned since 1987. Since 2000, harp seals that are targeted during the hunt are often found to be less than a year old, known as "beaters".[28] In 2006, the St. Lawrence hunt officially started on March 25 due to thin ice caused by the year's milder temperatures. Inuit people living in the region hunt mainly for food and, to a lesser extent, commerce.[27]

In 2003, the three-year quota granted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was increased to 975,000, with a maximum of 350,000 in any two consecutive years. In 2006, 325,000 harp seals, as well as 10,000 hooded seals and 10,400 grey seals were killed. An additional 10,000 animals are allocated to First Nations hunters.

In 2005, the Independent Veterinarians' Working Group (IVWG) recommended a three-step process for hunters to kill the seals with little or no pain for the seals, as long as the process is completed in rapid succession.[28] The process is as followed:

  1. Stun the seal on the head using tools, such as a rifle or a club, to immediately kill the animal or cause it to permanently lose consciousness.
  2. Ensure that step 1 was completed correctly, and the skull is irreversibly damaged.
  3. Cut the axillary arteries along both armpits and cut along the belly to prevent blood from reaching the brain, confirming its death.

In 2009, this process was included in both the 'Conditions of License' for the Canadian hunt as well as the Canadian Marine Mammal Regulations.[28]

The Canadian seal hunt is monitored by the Canadian government. Although approximately 70% of the hunt occurs on "the Front", most private monitors focus on the St. Lawrence hunt, due to its more convenient location.

About 70,000–90,000 animals are taken from the population off the coast of Greenland.[27]

The 2004 West Ice total allowable catch (TAC) was 15,000, almost double the sustainable catch of 8,200. Actual catches were 9,895 in 2004 and 5,808 in 2005.[27] The 2004 White Sea TAC was 45,000. The catch was 22,474.[27]

Population Dynamics

Hunting has had a significant impact on the population size of Harp Seals. Its estimated there was 9 million Harp Seals 150 years ago, and now about 3 million remain. Hunting restrictions are now in place for these animals[29] As of the year 1994 there was approximately 4.8 million Harp Seals.[30] The Northwest Atlantic populations was found to have decreased by at least 50 percent form the time period 1952-1970's.[31] Populations have also been changing with respect to distribution and have been found to have invaded areas such as North Norway.[32] The Harp Seal invasions have been harming the area's fisheries.[33]


  1. ^ Kovacs, K.M. (2015). Pagophilus groenlandicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T41671A45231087.en
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Encyclopedia of marine mammals. Perrin, William F., Würsig, Bernd G., Thewissen, J. G. M. (2nd ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press. 2009. ISBN 9780123735539. OCLC 316226747.
  3. ^ Kovacs, K.M. 2015. Pagophilus groenlandicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41671A45231087. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T41671A45231087.en. Downloaded on 03 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Folkow, L.P.; Nordøy, E.S. (2004). "Distribution and diving behaviour of harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus) from the Greenland Sea stock". Polar Biology. 27 (5): 281–298. doi:10.1007/s00300-004-0591-7.
  5. ^ a b Lydersen, Christian; Kovacs, Kit M. (1993). "Diving behaviour of lactating harp seal, Phoca groenlandica, females from the Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada". Animal Behaviour. 46 (6): 1213–1221. doi:10.1006/anbe.1993.1312.
  6. ^ Lavigne, D.; Innes, S.; Worthy, G.; Kovacs, K.; Schmitz, O.; Hickie, J. (1986). "Metabolic rates of seals and whales". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 64 (2): 279–284. doi:10.1139/z86-047.
  7. ^ Boily, Patrice; Lavigne, David M. (1996). "Thermoregulation of juvenile grey seals, Halichoerus grypus, in air". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 74 (2): 201–208. doi:10.1139/z96-025. ISSN 0008-4301.
  8. ^ Kvadsheim, P. H.; Folkow, L. P. (1997). "Blubber and flipper heat transfer in harp seals". Acta Physiologica Scandinavica. 161 (3): 385–395. doi:10.1046/j.1365-201x.1997.00235.x. ISSN 0001-6772. PMID 9401592.
  9. ^ a b "Adaptation of the Harp Seal". bioweb.uwlax.edu. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
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  13. ^ a b Lindstrøm, U.; Harbitz, A.; Haug, T.; Nilssen, K. T. (1998). "Do harp seals Phoca groenlandica exhibit particular prey preferences?". ICES Journal of Marine Science. 55 (5): 941–953. doi:10.1006/jmsc.1998.0367.
  14. ^ a b c John, Lawson; Anderson, John (1998). "Selective foraging by harp seals Phoca groenlandica in nearshore and offshore waters of Newfoundland, 1993 and 1994". Marine Ecology Progress Series. 163: 1–10. doi:10.3354/meps163001.
  15. ^ a b c Fisheries, NOAA. "Harp Seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) :: NOAA Fisheries". www.nmfs.noaa.gov. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  16. ^ Miller, Edward H.; Burton, Lauren E. (2001). "It's all relative: allometry and variation in the baculum (os penis) of the harp seal, Pagophilus groenlandicus (Carnivora: Phocidae)". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 72 (3): 345–355. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2001.tb01322.x.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ronald, K.; Dougan, J. L. (1982). "The Ice Lover: Biology of the Harp Seal (Phoca groenlandica)". Science. 215 (4535): 928–933. doi:10.1126/science.215.4535.928. JSTOR 1688319.
  18. ^ a b c d "Harp seal | mammal". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  19. ^ a b Berta, Annalisa; Churchill, Morgan (2012-07-01). "Pinniped taxonomy: review of currently recognized species and subspecies, and evidence used for their description". Mammal Review. 42 (3): 207–234. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.2011.00193.x. ISSN 1365-2907.
  20. ^ a b Ronald, K., & Healey, P. J. (1981). Harp Seal. Chapter 3 in Ridgeway, S. H., & Harrison, R. J., eds. Handbook of Marine Mammals, vol. 2 Seals. Academic Press, London.
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  24. ^ Frankis, M. P.; Davey, P. R. & Anderson, G. Q. A. (1997). "Harp Seal: a new mammal for the Northumberland fauna". Trans. Nat. Hist. Soc. Northumbria. 57 (4): 239–241.
  25. ^ Anon (1987). "Harp Seals, Brunnich's Guillemots and White-billed Divers". Twitching. 1 (3): 58.
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  28. ^ a b c Daoust, P-Y; Caraguel, C (2012-11-01). "The Canadian harp seal hunt: observations on the effectiveness of procedures to avoid poor animal welfare outcomes". Animal Welfare. 21 (4): 445–455. doi:10.7120/09627286.21.4.445. ISSN 0962-7286.
  29. ^ Sergeant, D.E. (1976-09-01). "History and present status of populations of harp and hooded seals". Biological Conservation. 10 (2): 95–118. doi:10.1016/0006-3207(76)90055-0. ISSN 0006-3207.
  30. ^ Shelton, P. A.; Stenson, G. B.; Sjare, B.; Warren, W. G. (1997). "Model estimates of harp seal numbers-at-age for the northwest Atlantic". Oceanographic Literature Review. 7 (44). ISSN 0967-0653.
  31. ^ Bowen, W. Don; Capstick, Charles K.; Sergeant, David E. (1981). "Temporal Changes in the Reproductive Potential of Female Harp Seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus)". Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 38 (5): 495–503. doi:10.1139/f81-071.
  32. ^ Haug, T.; Krøyer, A. B.; Nilssen, K. T.; Ugland, K. I.; Aspholm, P. E. (1991). "Harp seal (Phoca groenlandica) invasions in Norwegian coastal waters: age composition and feeding habits". ICES Journal of Marine Science. 48 (3): 363–371. doi:10.1093/icesjms/48.3.363. ISSN 1054-3139.
  33. ^ Huag, Tore; Nilssen, Kjell Tormod (1995). "Ecological implications of harp seal Phoca groenlandica invasions in northern Norway". Developments in Marine Biology. 4: 545–556. doi:10.1016/S0163-6995(06)80053-3. ISBN 9780444820709. ISSN 0163-6995.

Further reading

Paro robot
Paro, a medical robot pet based on the harp seal

The Northwest population:

The White Sea and West Ice populations:

  • Hamre, J.(1994). Biodiversity and exploitation of the main fish stocks in the Norwegian- Barents Sea ecosystem. Biodiversity and Conservation 3:473–492.
  • Haug, T., Kroeyer, A.B., Nilssen, K.T., Ugland, K.I. and Aspholm, P.E., (1991). Harp seal (Phoca groenlandica ) invasions in Norwegian coastal waters: Age composition and feeding habits. ICES journal of marine science. 48(3):363–371
  • ICES 2001. Report of the Joint ICES/NAFO Working Group on Harp and Hooded Seals, ICES Headquarters, 2–6 October 2000. ICES CM, 2001, ACFM:8, 40 pp.
  • Nilssen, K.T., Pedersen, O.-P., Folkow, L.P., & Haug. T. (2000). Food consumption estimates of Barents Sea harp seals. NAMMCO Sci. Publ. 2:9–28.

External links

Bylot Island

Bylot Island lies off the northern end of Baffin Island in Nunavut Territory, Canada. Eclipse Sound to the southeast and Navy Board Inlet to the southwest separate it from Baffin Island. Parry Channel lies to its northwest. At 11,067 km2 (4,273 sq mi) it is ranked 71st largest island in the world and Canada's 17th largest island. The island measures 180 km (110 mi) east to west and 110 km (68 mi) north to south and is one of the largest uninhabited islands in the world. While there are no permanent settlements on this Canadian Arctic island, Inuit from Pond Inlet and elsewhere regularly travel to Bylot Island. An Inuit seasonal hunting camp is located southwest of Cape Graham Moore.

The island's mountains are part of the Byam Martin Mountains, which is part of the Baffin Mountains of the Arctic Cordillera. In addition to Angilaaq Mountain, Malik Mountain, Mount St. Hans, and Mount Thule are notable. Tay Bay is on the west coast. Vertical cliffs along the coastline are made up of Precambrian dolomite. There are numerous glaciers. The western shore faces Navy Board Inlet. The island's north shore, facing Lancaster Sound, is a polar bear maternity den area. Beluga, bowhead whale, harp seal, narwhal, and ringed seal frequent the area.

The island is named for the Arctic explorer Robert Bylot, who was the first European to sight it in 1616. The whaling captain William Adams was the first to prove the island's insular nature in 1872.

Charismatic megafauna

Charismatic megafauna are large animal species with symbolic value, widespread popular appeal, and are often used by environmental activists to achieve environmentalist goals. Examples include the humpback whale, giant panda, bald eagle, California condor, harp seal, and penguin. Paradoxically, numerous charismatic species are endangered by hunting and black market commerce.

Cuisine of Quebec

Quebec's traditional cuisine is as rich and diverse as the province of Quebec itself.

Earless seal

The earless seals, phocids or true seals are one of the three main groups of mammals within the seal lineage, Pinnipedia. All true seals are members of the family Phocidae . They are sometimes called crawling seals to distinguish them from the fur seals and sea lions of the family Otariidae. Seals live in the oceans of both hemispheres and, with the exception of the more tropical monk seals, are mostly confined to polar, subpolar, and temperate climates. The Baikal seal is the only species of exclusively freshwater seal.

Flapper pie

Flapper pie is a vanilla custard pie topped with meringue (or sometimes whipped cream in South Saskatchewan). The Graham cracker cream pie dates

back to the 19th century but entered Western Canadian pop culture in the 20th century as flapper pie.

The pie is a staple of the Canadian prairie culture.

Flipper pie

Flipper pie is a traditional Eastern Canadian meat pie made from harp seal flippers. It is similar to a pot pie in that the seal flippers are cooked with vegetables in a thick sauce and then covered with pastry. It is specific to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and primarily eaten in April and May, during the annual seal hunt.. Although in the past seal flippers were usually acquired directly from the boats that were used for the seal hunt (since they were considered a by-product of the seal fur trade), today they are usually purchased in grocery stores. Taste-wise, seal meat has been described as being akin to rabbit or dark meat chicken, and fans of its flavour tend to be people who grew up eating it.

Fred Bruemmer

Fred Bruemmer, CM (June 26, 1929 – December 17, 2013) was a Latvian Canadian nature photographer and researcher. He spent his life travelling extensively throughout the circumpolar regions and to other remote parts of the globe. His works have been centered mostly on the Arctic, its people and its animals. He also conducted research and published on animals in many other areas of the globe. He spoke nine languages and wrote more than a thousand articles for publications around the world, including Canadian Geographic, Natural History, National Geographic and Smithsonian. Fred Bruemmer lived in Montreal, Quebec.

Born in Riga, Latvia, to a Baltic-German family, Bruemmer emigrated to Canada in 1951 and became a citizen in 1956. His book Survival - A Refugee Life, published in 2005, talks about the harrowing ordeals the young Bruemmer went through during World War II, which led him from his Latvian birthplace to eventual immigration to Canada.

His 1964 photo of a white harp seal pup became an icon and was among 51 photos chosen in the book Photographs that Changed the World.

Books by Fred Bruemmer include:

The Long Hunt (1969);

Seasons of the Eskimo (1971);

Encounters with Arctic Animals (1972);

The Arctic (1974);

The Life of the Harp Seal (1977);

Children of the North (1979);

Summer at Bear River (1980);

The Arctic World (1985);

Arctic Animals (1986);

Seasons of the Seal (1988);

World of the Polar Bear (1989);

Seals (1991) (with Eric S. Grace);

Land of Dark, Land of Light (1993) (with Karen Pandell);

Les Animaux du Grand Nord (1993) (with Angele Delaunois);

Arctic Memories: Living with the Inuit (1993);

Nanook and Nauja: The Polar Bear Cubs (1995) (with Angele Delaunois);

Kotik: The Baby Seal (1995) (with Angele Delaunois);

Polar Dance: Born of the North Wind (1997) (with Tom Mangelsen);

Seals in the Wild (1998)

Glimpses of Paradise: The Marvel of Massed Animals (2002), ISBN 978-1552976661

Survival - A Refugee Life (2005)

Islands of Fate (2006)

Arctic Visions: Pictures from a Vanished world (2009)

Greenland Sea

The Greenland Sea is a body of water that borders Greenland to the west, the Svalbard archipelago to the east, Fram Strait and the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Norwegian Sea and Iceland to the south. The Greenland Sea is often defined as part of the Arctic Ocean, sometimes as part of the Atlantic Ocean. However, definitions of the Arctic Ocean and its seas tend to be imprecise or arbitrary. In general usage the term "Arctic Ocean" would exclude the Greenland Sea. In oceanographic studies the Greenland Sea is considered part of the Nordic Seas, along with the Norwegian Sea. The Nordic Seas are the main connection between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans and, as such, could be of great significance in a possible shutdown of thermohaline circulation. In oceanography the Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas are often referred to collectively as the "Arctic Mediterranean Sea", a marginal sea of the Atlantic.The sea has Arctic climate with regular northern winds and temperatures rarely rising above 0 °C (32 °F). It previously contained the Odden ice tongue (or Odden) area, which extended eastward from the main East Greenland ice edge in the vicinity of 72–74°N during the winter and acted as a key winter ice formation area in the Arctic. The West Ice forms in winter in the Greenland Sea, north of Iceland, between Greenland and Jan Mayen island. It is a major breeding ground of harp seal and hooded seal that has been used for seal hunting for more than 200 years.

Hantzsch Island

Hantzsch Island is an uninhabited island in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in Frobisher Bay off the southern tip of Baffin Island's Meta Incognita Peninsula and the northeastern tip of Edgell Island. The closest community is the Inuit hamlet of Sanikiluaq, 800 km (500 mi) to the west on Flaherty Island.

List of Arctic pinnipeds

This is a list of Arctic pinnipeds:

Phocidae (ᓇᑦᓯᖅ, natsiq)Bearded seal (ᐅᒡᔪᒃ, ᐅᒥᒃᑑᖅ, ugjuk) Erignathus barbatus

Hooded seal (ᓇᑦᓯᕙᒃ, natsivak) Cystophora cristata

Harbor seal (ᖃᓯᒋᐊᖅ, qasigiaq) Phoca vitulina

Harp seal (ᖃᐃᕈᓕᒃ, qairulik) Pagophilus groenlandicus

Grey seal (ᐳᕕᓲᖅ, puvisuuq) Halichoerus grypus

Ringed seal (ᓇᑦᑎᖅ, nattiq) Pusa hispida

Northern elephant seal Mirounga angustirostris

Ribbon seal (Histriophoca fasciata)

Spotted seal (Phoca largha, Phoca vitulina largha)


Northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus)

OdobenidaeWalrus (ᐊᐃᕕᖅ, aiviq) Odobenus rosmarus

List of mammals of Norway

List of mammals with non-domesticated populations in Norway.


Paro may refer to:

Matteo Paro (born 1983), Italian footballer

Paro (robot), a therapeutic robot baby harp seal

Paro, Bhutan

Paro Airport, Bhutan

Paro District, Bhutan

Paro, a 32-foot-tall (9.8 m) Moai on Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Paro, a fictional character in Devdas (novella)

Páró, the Hungarian name for Părău Commune, Braşov County, Romania

Paro (spider), a genus of Linyphiidae spiders

Paro (robot)

PARO is a therapeutic robot baby harp seal, intended to be very cute and to have a calming effect on and elicit emotional responses in patients of hospitals and nursing homes, similar to animal-assisted therapy except using robots

Polar seas

Polar seas is a collective term for the Arctic Ocean (about 4-5 percent of Earth's oceans) and the southern part of the Southern Ocean (south of Antarctic Convergence, about 10 percent of Earth's oceans). In the coldest years, sea ice can cover around 13 percent of the Earth's total surface at its maximum, but out of phase in the two hemispheres. The polar seas contain a huge biome with many organisms.

Among the species that inhabit various polar seas and surrounding land areas are polar bear, reindeer (caribou), muskox, wolverine, ermine, lemming, Arctic hare, Arctic ground squirrel, whale, harp seal, and walrus. These species have unique adaptations to the extreme conditions. Many might be endangered if they cannot adapt to changing conditions. Contrary to popular opinion, the World Wildlife Fund studies for polar bears show that this species has prospered since 1950, attaining five times the numbers found in 1950. In general, Arctic ecosystems are relatively fragile and slow to recover from serious damage.

Poutchine au sac

Poutchine au sac (literally, pudding in a bag) is a Métis dish made of beef suet, flour, brown sugar, raisins, currants, and milk. The ingredients are combined in a cotton bag or sealer jars, then steamed. The cooked dish is usually topped with a sauce made from sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and nutmeg.

Seal hunting

Seal hunting, or sealing, is the personal or commercial hunting of seals. Seal hunting is currently practiced in nine countries and one region of Denmark: United States (above the Arctic Circle in Alaska), Canada, Namibia, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Greenland. Most of the world's seal hunting takes place in Canada and Greenland.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) regulates the seal hunt in Canada. It sets quotas (total allowable catch – TAC), monitors the hunt, studies the seal population, works with the Canadian Sealers' Association to train sealers on new regulations, and promotes sealing through its website and spokespeople. The DFO set harvest quotas of over 90,000 seals in 2007; 275,000 in 2008; 280,000 in 2009; and 330,000 in 2010. The actual kills in recent years have been less than the quotas: 82,800 in 2007; 217,800 in 2008; 72,400 in 2009; and 67,000 in 2010.In 2007, Norway claimed that 29,000 harp seals were killed, Russia claimed that 5,479 seals were killed, and Greenland claimed that 90,000 seals were killed in their respective seal hunts.

Harp seal populations in the northwest Atlantic declined to approximately 2 million in the late 1960s as a result of Canada's annual kill rates, which averaged to over 291,000 from 1952 to 1970. Conservationists demanded reduced rates of killing and stronger regulations to avert the extinction of the harp seal. In 1971, the Canadian government responded by instituting a quota system. The system was competitive, with each boat catching as many seals as it could before the hunt closed, which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans did when they knew that year's quota had been reached. Because it was thought that the competitive element might cause sealers to cut corners, new regulations were introduced that limited the catch to 400 seals per day, and 2000 per boat total. A 2007 population survey conducted by the DFO estimated the population at 5.5 million.It is illegal in Canada to hunt newborn harp seals (whitecoats) and young hooded seals (bluebacks). When the seal pups begin to molt their downy white fur at the age of 12–14 days, they are called "ragged-jacket" and can be commercially hunted. After molting, the seals are called "beaters", named for the way they beat the water with their flippers. The hunt remains highly controversial, attracting significant media coverage and protests each year. Images from past hunts have become iconic symbols for conservation, animal welfare, and animal rights advocates. In 2009, Russia banned the hunting of harp seals less than one year old.

Seal meat

Seal meat is the flesh, including the blubber and organs, of seals used as food for humans or other animals. It is prepared in numerous ways, often being hung and dried before consumption. Historically, it has been eaten in many parts of the world, both as a part of a normal diet, and as sustenance.

Practice of human consumption continues today in Japan, Norway, Iceland, Faroe Islands, the Inuit and other indigenous peoples of the United States (including the Makah people of the Pacific Northwest), Canada, Greenland; the Chukchi people of Siberia, and Bequia in the Caribbean Sea.


Sirotan is a Japanese merchandise character created by Creative Yoko. Sirotan is a young harp seal, white in colour but often disguised as other cute animals and objects. He was born on August 8th, 1999, in Northern Iceland. Sirotan's favourite things to do are napping and swimming in the ocean. His favourite foods are fish, ice-cream, confectionery and milk. He loves dressing up and playing. "Sirotan" literally means, "Widdle White," the childish version of "Little White." He is also nicknamed Shironai. He does not have a Chinese name.

There are four members in his family. They are his mother, his father, his older brother and his grandmother. In additional, he has six close friends. They are Kametan - the turtle, Penta - the penguin, Usamomo - the rabbit, Irukakun - the dolphin, Mokota - the sheep and Bakketan - the toy bear which is made by Sirotan's mother.

The first theme shop that is dedicated to Sirotan is currently found at Haneda Airport.


A whitecoat is a newborn harp or grey seal with soft, white fur.

Extant Carnivora species

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