Phoca vitulina: Harbour Seal –The Race Rocks Taxonomy

The total harbour seal population in the eastern north Pacific is estimated to be  330,000, and in California the estimated population was 40,000 in 1997.  They usually are found in small groups, but sometimes occur in numbers of up to 500.
RANGE/HABITAT:  Harbour seals are found across the Northern Hemisphere in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  In the Northeast Pacific, they range from Alaska to Baja California, in Mexico. They favor near-shore coastal waters and frequent sandy beaches, mudflats, bays, and estuaries.

See the most recent posts on harbour seals by the Ecoguardians at Race Rocks 


Harbour seal photo by Ryan Murphy 2002

silverHarbour seals spend about half their time on land and half in water, and they sometimes sleep in water.  They can dive to 1,500 feet (457 m) for up to 40 minutes, although their average dive lasts 3 to 7 minutes.  They are opportunistic feeders and hunt for sole, flounder, sculpin, hake, cod, herring, octopus, and squid.They will also take fairly large salmon.

This image of a mother an baby harbour seal was taken by Ryan Murphy when he was the Ecoguardian at Race Rocks 2009-2011 See this and many more excellent shots  on his Flickr album of Race Rocks Seals here.rmharbsealandpup

Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Clade: Pinnipedia
Family: Phocidae
Genus : Phoca
Species : vitulina

Phoca vitulina (Linnaeus, 1758 )

COMMON NAME: Harbour Seal


In the summer, the South East bay is often populated by harbour seals. In this view taken in July, 2005 from the tower, you can count at least 25 seals.


This shot is from the tower of the south bay by PB, Sept. 14 2007, the seals can be seen swimming underwater.


Harbour seals on the south intertidal island, Sept. 2007


A panorama of the seals on South Islands in June.. photo: GF


The cause of death of this seal is unknown.It could have been hit by a boat.


It had been providing food for an eagle several days before this picture was taken: see video:

rmsept2009decapsealAt Race Rocks,the Harbour seals are year round residents, although their numbers peak in mid summer to over 400. They have pups on the island from March to July. This file shows what happens if boat traffic is too fast in the ecological reserve or around any seal haulout area,


Damion Wilson PC Year 27.
Other Members of the Class Mammalia at Race Rocks.

See the most recent posts on harbour seals by the Ecoguardians at Race Rocks 

taxonomyiconReturn to the Race Rocks Taxonomy
and Image File
pearsonlogo2_f2The Race Rocks taxonomy is a collaborative venture originally started with the Biology and Environmental Systems students of Lester Pearson College UWC. It now also has contributions added by Faculty, Staff, Volunteers and Observers on the remote control webcams.