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.


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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
sightings Sighting % Hauled Species (individuals) rate (1) out (n) Bearded seal 67 0.28 73 (49) Harp seal 15 0.06 47 (7) Hooded seal 12 0.05 50 (6) Ringed seal 213 0.89 6 (13) Unidentified seal 5 0.02 0 (0) Total 312 1.30 24 (75) (1) Sighting rates are based on the number of individuals seen per hour of observation effort TABLE 2.
These climate and vegetation cycles coincide with the cultural patterns, notably the appearance of Groswater and Dorset Paleoeskimos with cooler periods, lower sea surface temperatures, and higher sea ice indices, factors that would have promoted large seasonal harp seal populations in the Gulf.
Recent studies also indicated that temporal shifts in polar bear diets occurred (Iverson et al., 2006; Thiemann et al., 2008; McKinney et al., 2009), rendering the harp seal potentially an important prey species where available.
The virus is believed to have originated in harp seals in which the infection is enzootic (4).
PETA writes: "During Canada's annual seal massacre, hundreds of thousands of baby seals are shot or have their skulls crushed, all for the sake of 'fashion.' Sealers routinely hook seals in the eye, cheek, or mouth to avoid damaging the pelt, then drag the seals across the ice, in many cases without checking to ensure that they are unconscious." PETA doesn't mention that while hunting baby seals is allowed, hunting whitecoat seals - newborn harp seals are white for about 12 days - has been illegal in Canada since 1987.
The harp seal's ice habitat is fast melting, and will likely result in a high seal pup mortality this year, according to the Humane Society.
"We are overwhelmingly pleased that the Russian government has finally completed its pledge to protect harp seals," says Masha Vorontsova, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Russia.
AT last, following Vladimir Putin's condemnation of a "bloody industry", the Russian ecology ministry has announced legislation protecting harp seal pups less than a year old.
An adult harp seal is about two meters, or six has many centimeters, or several inches of blubber, and weighs up to 180 kilograms, or 500 pounds.
But researchers fear much worse is to come.The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which is financing the research, cites the example of the Harp seal, which like the Beluga migrates between the White Sea and the Barents Sea.Global warming and increased ship traffic in the White Sea have together robbed the Harp seal of the ice sheets where pups are born, causing a collapse in its population from 300,000 in 2003 to just over 100,000 this year, IFAW said.While the Belugas are less dependent on ice, they are very sensitive to any pollution that the oil industry brings, said researcher Vera Krasnova."In the Saint Lawrence River in Canada, pollution has been catastrophic for the Belugas," she said.
LACKING the cuddly charm of the baby harp seal or the human-like traits of the gorilla, "Save the shark" is not exactly a slogan which is guaranteed to stir emotion.
Also highlighted was the fact that the killing of harp seal pups (whitecoats) has been banned in Canada since 1987, under penalty of severe fines, despite the fact that images of them continue to be used in publicity material produced by animal rights associations.