Seals are carnivorous marine mammals. They have four flipperlike limbs with five webbed digits on each. Their bodies are streamlined, external ears are very small or nonexistent, and nostrils are narrow. They are clumsy on land.
The Hooded Seal
, Cystophora cristata
, is sometimes found on the Atlantic coast. It normally lives along the coast from Labrador to Greenland but occasionally wanders as far south as Florida.
It is mottled gray and black, 7-10.5 feet long. Males have a nose pouch, or "hood", which can be inflated with air.
It is highly migratory and usually is found in small groups. Its diet includes clams, fish, octopi, squid, and shrimp.
It breeds in the spring, bearing one pup about 11.5 months later. After weaning the pup, it mates again. Hooded seals are monogamous.
Predators include sharks, killer whales, polar bears, and man.
The Harbor Seal
, Phoca vitulina
, is found in inlets, harbors, and estuaries on the Atlantic coast as far south as Volusia County. It is light to dark gray, often mottled. It has large eyes and prominent whiskers. It is 5-6 feet long.
It migrates seasonally. It forages in shallow water for fish and shellfish.
It breeds in September. One or two pups are born the following spring.
Predators include killer whales, sharks, polar bears, and man.
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