What Do Harp Seals Eat?

Harp seals do not just rely on only one kind of food. Since these animals are highly migratory species, they eat a wide variety of prey and the diet varies with the location, season and age of the animal. However, the main diet of the harp seals consists of small fish. Apart from this, harp seals also dine on pelagic crustaceans including krill, prawns, shrimps and amphipods. All in all, there are about 67 fish species and 70 species of invertebrates on the menu of such seals.

In Greenland, the adult harp seals prey on Arctic Cod, Capelin, Polar Cod and Sandeel; the seals of the Barents Sea of the Arctic tend to eat Snailfish, Polar Cod, Shrimps, Sculpin, Capelin and Amphipods. The Polar Cod is by far the most favorite of all these. Off Newfoundland, harp seals prey on Arctic Cod and Capelin; off Labrador, they feed on Atlantic Herring and Arctic Cod; off Gulf of St. Lawrence, they eat Arctic Cod, Herring, Redfish, Atlantic Cod and Capelin. These animals eat far more in summer and winter.

What do baby harp seals eat?

A female nurses her pup for about 12 days while the pup gains around 4.8 pounds of weight each day. By the time of weaning, the pup had already gained about 88 to 99 pounds of weight.

The young harp seals usually feed on a wide range of invertebrates. Among these, the most common are pelagic Amphipods and Euphausiids.

Sources:

Kovacs, K.M. 2015. Pagophilus groenlandicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41671A45231087. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T41671A45231087.en.

“Animal Facts: Harp seal”. Canadian Geographic Magazine

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