Species of the Week

Yes, every week (I hope) I will try to introduce you to another denizen of the deep (or shallow, as the case may be.) They could be really dangerous. They could be really strange. They could be really cute (in my humble opinion), or perhaps just darn cool.

This week's species is:
Harbor Seal
(Phoca vitulina)
a virtual poster child for marine 

The harbor seal is a Phocid, or "true seal". This means among other things that they don't have external ears and can't rotate their pelvises to bring their hind limbs under their body. If you see a "seal" that is sitting up (in a stereotypical circus "seal" position), it is a sea lion, an Otariid, not a true seal. There are four subspecies of harbor seal, dependent on what region they are from, but the primary range of the harbor seal is the north Atlantic and north Pacific. They are often seen "hauled out" on rocks and beaches, or floating in the water with their heads poking out. When young, they have a fuzzy grey coat (lanugo) which falls out and is replaced by a tougher coat that can be grey, brown, or reddish, often with speckles and spots. Males can grow to about 6 feet long, while females usually only reach 5 feet. They eat fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans, and have an average lifespan of 25 years. They are very well adapted to the marine environment, propelling with their hind flippers and steering with their fore-flippers, swimming up to 12 mph (19 kph), and maintaining a core body temperature of around 100 degrees F, with a temperature gradient through the blubber so their skin is only 1 degree warmer than the surrounding water. In the past, the biggest threat to seals was hunting for fur and meat, but now the biggest threat is marine pollution, particularly debris.

Did you miss a week? Doing a project and need info? I have been archiving!

Irish Moss
Sea Lettuce

Vascular plants
Marsh Hay
Saltmarsh cordgrass

Cnidarians and Ctenophores
Club Hydroid
Sea Gooseberry
Sea Nettle

Blue-ringed octopus
Giant Squid
Moon Snail

Brine Shrimp
Mole Crab
Fish Lice
Northern Lobster

Brittle Star
California Sea Cucumber
Green Sea Urchin
Sunflower Star

Fish (cartilagenous, bony, and otherwise)
Basking Shark
Bluefin Tuna
Clearnose Skate
Sea Lamprey
Winter Flounder

Double-Crested Cormorant
Herring Gull
Piping Plover

Harbor Porpoise
Sperm Whale

Sugar Bird

Have any species you'd like to learn about? Let me know and I will use your suggestion for a species of the week.

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