harp seal

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Related to Phoca groenlandica: Pagophilus groenlandicus, harp seal

harp seal

harp seal, crested earless, or true, seal, 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 Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora.


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

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Neonatal growth and organ allometry of Northwest Atlantic harp seals (Phoca groenlandica).
Variation in assimilation efficiency and digestive efficiency of captive harp seals (Phoca groenlandica) on different diets.
Assuming a seal weighing 160 kg (a reasonable estimate of the adult weight of a harp seal (Phoca groenlandica) the derived (weight-normalized) ingestion rate is 0.018 kg f.w.
Summer feeding ecology of harp seals (Phoca groenlandica) in relation to arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) in the Canadian high Arctic.
The usefulness of animals such as ringed seal (Phoca hispida), harp seal (Phoca groenlandica), bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus), and harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) as indicator species is due to the close relationship of their range, reproductive cycles, and life histories to sea ice.
L'utilite d'animaux tels que le phoque annele (Phoca hispida), le phoque du Groenland (Phoca groenlandica), le phoque barbu (Erignathus barbatus) et le phoque commun (Phoca vitulina) comme especes indicatrices est due au rapport etroit que leurs aires de distribution, leurs cycles de reproduction et leurs cycles de vie ont avec la glace marine.
The migrations of belugas, narwhals, and harp seals (Phoca groenlandica) are all linked to the vernal production of ice algae and ice-edge productivity.
Harp seal (Phoca groenlandica) invasions in Norwegian coastal waters: Age composition and feeding habits.