Detroit Zoo Harp Seal Page


At the Detroit Zoo
The Detroit Zoo is home to six rescued seals. The newest arrival, Jersey, is a friendly, female grey seal pup rescued from the New Jersey shoreline. Pequot – a harp seal known for his gentle attitude – follows the large and eager grey seal, Kiinaq. The two harbor seals include diva-like Freita and sweet, old Sidney who can often be seen blowing bubbles. Grey seal Georgie was rescued off the coast of Georgetown, Maine, in the summer of 2013. The seals reside at the Arctic Ring of Life, North America's largest polar bear exhibit, which is also home to arctic foxes. This state-of-the-art, interactive facility encompasses over 4 acres of outdoor and indoor exhibits. The most unique feature is the spectacular 70-foot-long Frederick and Barbara Erb Polar Passage, a clear tunnel that takes visitors underneath diving and swimming polar bears and seals. This award-winning habitat was named the second-best exhibit at any zoo in the U.S. by The Intrepid Traveler's guide to America's Best Zoos.



Harp Seal
The harp seal has a dark, saddle-like marking on the back and sides of its light-yellow and gray body, which is why it is also known as a saddleback seal. It has a stout body with front flippers that have thick claws and hind flippers that are used for swimming. To move on land, a harp seal will pull itself forward with its front flippers. Pups are known by their snow-white fur.

Scientific name: Pagophilus groenlandicus
Continent: The northern-most parts of North America, Asia and Europe
Habitat: Arctic pack ice
Size: 5-6 feet long
: Up to 400 pounds
: The harp seal is a carnivore and eats various fish and invertebrates such as arctic and polar cod and krill.
Reproduction: Gestation 11.5 months; single pup
Lifespan: 35 years
Conservation Status
: Least Concern



Harbor Seal

The harbor seal has a rounded head with a fairly blunt snout and lacks external ear flaps. Its color varies from silver with black spots, to black with gray or white rings, to almost pure white.


Scientific name:  Phoca vitulina

Continent: Northern-most parts of North America, Asia and Europe

Habitat: Rocky or sandy beaches, rocky reefs, tidal mudflats and sandbars along the coast or in bays or estuaries 

Size: 4.5-6 feet long

Weight: 150-300 pounds

Diet: The harbor seal is a carnivore and eats various fish, crustaceans and mollusks.

Reproduction: Gestation 9 to 11 months; single pup

Lifespan: 25 years

Conservation Status: Least Concern



Grey Seal  

The grey seal has a speckled body with shiny, white whiskers. Its foreflippers and hind flippers are webbed with five strong claws on each. The grey seal has very powerful rear flippers that propel it through the water, using its tail to help steer. It also has very powerful shoulders that enable it to haul out onto steep and slippery rocks, even in a big swell.


Scientific name:  Halichoerus grypus
Continent: Northern North America and Europe
Habitat: Rocky coasts and islands, sandbars, ice shelves and icebergs
Size: 6.5-8.25 feet long
Weight: 330-660 pounds
Diet: The grey seal is a carnivore and eats various fish, crustaceans, squid and octopus.
Reproduction: Gestation 11 months; single pup
Lifespan: 17 years
Conservation Status: Least Concern


The harp seal is called a "true" or "earless" seal since it lacks external ear flaps.

The harbor seal can remain submerged for up to 28 minutes and dive to depths of 295 feet.

The grey seal's large eyes allow it to see well in dark murky waters; however, its highly sensitive ears are most important for locating prey.