Harbor seals are a familiar face here in the San Juans and we love getting to watch them on Whale Watch and Wildlife Tour and Guided Sea Kayak Tours. Friday Harbor even has a local harbor seal named Popeye! These inquisitive critters are a must see when visiting the Salish Sea.
Harbor seals are known as a “true seal”, which distinguishes them from other types of pinnipeds. True seals have pin pricks for ears, so they are not visible, and very short fore flippers. Short fore flippers make these seals torpedo shaped, which is perfect for life in the water. However, on land, these seals are clumsy and ill equipped. True seals must move around on land in a worming motion and often referred to as “rock sausages” here in the San Juans.
Harbor Seals of the San Juans
Harbor seals may look small compared to some of the other marine mammals in the Salish Sea, but they are quite large by human standards. Reaching lengths of 6ft and up to 300lbs, harbor seals can be quite the site.
With coats ranging from light gray to black, harbor seals are also very beautiful. They dot the rocky outcroppings of the San Juan Islands and are commonly found swimming. Harbor seals eat shellfish, bottom fish, 4 inch fish, squids and much more! These hungry pinnipeds are not very picky when it comes to their diet!
Next time you find yourself in on the Salish Sea, keep an eye out for these cute pinnipeds. Both by vessel and kayak, these playful seals are always a treat!
San Juan Safaris