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Gray Seal Halichoerus grypus


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Gray Seal
credit: Mateusz Włodarczyk/CCSA

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Family: Phocidae, Hair Seals view all from this family

Description A large gray seal with an exaggerated snout. Larger than the Harbor Seal, with a less doglike face. When viewed head-on the nostrils are curved resembling the letter W (not heart shaped like in the Harbor Seal). The color of males varies from black to gray-green, and can be solid or mottled. Females are typically silvery with dark patches, rarely solid black or cream-colored. Males are larger, with longer, broader snouts and more massive necks that are often scarred from fighting. Pups are born with white fur that molts to adult color at two to four weeks.

Dimensions 2.0-2.7m, 240-320kg; / 1.6-2.2m, 150-260kg

Similar Species Larger than the Harbor Seal, with a less doglike face.

Breeding Breeds and molts on land or ice.

Habitat Beaches, shorelines & estuaries, Offshore waters

Range New England, Eastern Canada, Alaska

Discussion Largest breeding area is on Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia, where 15,000 young are born each year. Feeds on fish in the open sea.