I have posted images of seal on this journal before. For those of you who actually keep up with this thing, you are probably already very much aware that here on the Outer Banks we get harbor seal pups in the winter. Well, here is one of a harp seal – something a little bit different, and in my opinion at least, quite significant.
I just finished a story on seals for Wildlife in North Carolina magazine and had made this image for the story, but had completely forgotten about it until I was putting the package together.
Like the harbor seals that frequent our beaches in the winter, harp seals that make thier way onto these barrier islands are also pups. Since the Marine Mammal Protection Act, seal numbers of all species have rebounded considerably. In those areas of extremely high population density, competition for food in the winter is absolutely fierce. As the primary summer time food sources of many seals actually migrate down to the Outer Banks in the winter, such as hake, these pups are most likely simply following their summer time foods further south so as to escape the competition up north when resources are limited. We believe this to be true in a number of other species as well, such as ducks in that the younger ones travel farther south due to competition.
These harp seals are pretty fascinating. This is the same species that Canadians club for fur up on the pack ice. Not very common here on the banks but they do occur each year.