The waters along the Pacific Northwest coast are full of Harbor Seals! The harbor seal is the most widely distributed seal in the world, inhabiting temperate, subarctic & coastal areas on both sides of the North Atlantic and north Pacific Oceans.
There are 5 sub-species that inhabit the northern oceans, with a total estimate for the species could be as high as 500,000.
Harbor seals have a rounded head and the adult’s body shapes resemble a larger version of juveniles, they can look like dogs in the water. I’ve always called them sea dogs….but when seen out of the water, there is no doubt that they are seals!
The color of their coats varies widely. The background color is pale grey in a newly molted animal changing to pale brown tan before the next molt, after molting, they are spotted or speckled, and covered with rings, spots & blotches.
The pattern of speckles or spots on a harbor seal’s coat is unique to each seal. It does not change from year to year – a useful feature in the identification of individual seals!