harp seal

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harp seal,

crested earless, or true, sealseal,
carnivorous aquatic mammal with front and hind feet modified as flippers, or fin-feet. The name seal is sometimes applied broadly to any of the fin-footed mammals, or pinnipeds, including the walrus, the eared seals (sea lion and fur seal), and the true seals, also called
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, Phoca groenlandica, found in the N Atlantic around Greenland and the White Sea. In the spring, harp seals migrate southward to assemble in large groups to breed near the Newfoundland and Norwegian coasts. The young, born on ice floes, are covered with a fluffy white coat from birth to weaning (about 12 to 18 days) and are hunted for their fur, meat, and skin. The clubbing to death of baby seals aroused much protest in the 1970s, and trade in their white furs has declined after Europe banned imports in the mid-1980s. A decade later, however, concerns over the seals' affect on the cod fisheries led to increased quotas and the return of large commercial operations to the annual hunt, but killing of white-coated baby seals is banned. The fur gradually darkens to gray as the young seals mature. The old males are marked with a brown crest on each side, suggesting the outline of a harp. Harp seals, sometimes seen as far S as Maine, are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora.

Bibliography

See F. Bruemmer, The Life of the Harp Seal (1977).

Harp Seal

 

or Greenland seal (Phoca [Pagophilus] groen-landica), a mammal of the family Phocidae, order Pinnipedia. Body length, 160–195 cm; weight 100–160 kg. The coloration of the adult is white with two large, dark fields. Harp seals live in arctic waters, where they form three herds: the New foundland, the Jan-Mayen, and the White Sea. In summer they live in small groups at the edge of ice floes, feeding on pelagic crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish. In autumn the harp seals migrate to the regions where they bear young, moult, and mate; there they form large groups on the ice (“infant rookeries”). Harp seals are the main game of commercial sealing in the north of Europe. Their fat is used; the newborn seals yield a valuable fur. As a result of uncontrolled hunting, their numbers have sharply declined in the last decades.