Scientific Name: phoca vitulina
Habitat: saltwater shorelines
Diet: squid, octopus, crab, clams, fish
Life Span: 25 – 30 years (males slightly shorter)
Young: 1 pup per year
Size: 60 – 160 kg

The Harbor Seal, or common seal, is found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere. The most widely distributed species of pinniped, they are found in coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Baltic and North Seas.

Harbor seals can be brown, tan, or gray, with a unique pattern of spots. They have distinctive V-shaped nostrils. An adult can grow to a length of 1.85 meters and weigh up to 132 kilograms. A thick layer of blubber under their skin helps them keep warm. Harbor Seals molt once a year, with the fur coming off in patches.

Although Harbor Seals can dive to depths of 90 meters, they tend to find most of their food in shallow waters. Seals are currently hunted for their fur, oil, and meat.

If you would like to learn more, visit or come visit the Edmonton Valley Zoo.


Hula and Makani are the Valley Zoo’s resident Harbor Seals. When Lucy, the Asian Elephant, became famous for her paintings, Hula and Makani decided to try their flippers at painting as well!

Painting was introduced as a simple animal enrichment activity. Each painting begins with the zookeepers mixing the colours. The art is usually started off by Hula who paints as much as she wants with a certain colour. Once she is finished she hands the brush back to her keeper. Makani usually completes the masterpieces with his characteristic short jabs and dots. Each piece is very different, but Hula and Makani definitely have their own styles!

Their masterpieces are for sale online and in the Zoo-tique. Proceeds from the sale of Hula and Makani’s artwork goes towards Animal Enrichment activities at the zoo.