Harbor Seal

Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina)

Herbie the Harbor Seal
Judith Wolfe

        Herbie the Harbor Seal relaxing by his pool

Zoo collection includes: A male named Nicky, born in 1990 in Brooklyn.

Found in the wild: North Atlantic Ocean, South Baltic Sea, and the North Pacific Ocean. Harbor seals used to be frequent visitors to NYC waters before being driven out by pollution and development. However, because of cleaner waters in the area, they are slowly making a comeback.

Description: Male Harbor seals are about 5-6 feet long and weigh about 120-130 lbs. These bluish-gray dappled beauties spend most of their time in the water. They are able to hold their breath for up to 23 minutes and dive to depths of 300 feet.

Zoo Seal Habitat: Nicky and Herbie reside in a multi-species exhibit. You can see them inbetween the Polar Bear and Penguin habitats with two black-backed gulls, a cormorant and some ducks. Nixon’s tank is lightly chlorinated and contains 64,000 gallons of water. Water depth is 6 feet and the tank is filtered at 400 gallons per minute. Nixon has access to land and is hand fed during his behavioral enrichment sessions on solid ground. However, seals are not able to move very well on land. Unlike sea lions, such as the CPZ’s California sea lions, “true seals” have short flippers on which they are unable to balance their weight. This makes it harder to get around on land and often you’ll see Nixon rolling into the water after his feedings.
Sponsored Links

What do they eat:  Harbor seals eat fish and invertebrates such as crabs, squid, and shrimp. At the CPZ, Nixon eats capelin, herring, Vitamin E, and salt supplements.

Life span:  Harbor seals may live 25 to 32 years.

Judith Wolfe

   Harbor Seal looking at you!


Threats:  In the 1960’s many Harbor seals were killed because they were thought to be preying on salmon. They have also been driven away by pollution and development. Currently their population is approximately 300,000-400,000 individuals, but their numbers are dwindling because of human encroachment and over fishing.

Fun Facts: You can sometimes tell a Harbor Seal's age by the number of growth rings in its teeth, but it may bite you if you try!
Harbor Seals' flippers used to be hind legs. Harbor Seals can hold their breath underwater for up to fifteen minutes. Harbor Seals sleep on the bottom of the tank for up to fifteen minutes. Harbor Seal babies are called pups.



Share or Bookmark

+ Sponsored Links

+ Events Calendar

+ Sponsored Links

+ Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in Central Park

Take a tour of Central
Park and go sightseeing
in New York City!

+ Sponsored Links

+ Search for Hotels

Top of Page Header Photo: © Mary Schwalm 2017
Copyright © 2004 - 2017 Greensward Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
Recommended Article

  King (Aptenodytes patagonicus)  Rockhopper (Eudyptes chrysocome)Chinstrap (Pygoscelis antarctica) and Gentoo (Pygoscelis p ... read more ›