What Do You Know About Seals?

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Harbor seals are mammals that are comfortable on land and in water. While they feed and sometimes sleep in the water, they return to land to mate and bear their young. These "pups" are born in mid-May. Seal babies can swim immediately at birth, but spend most of their time nursing and basking in the sun.

Harbor seals have thick, tough skin. Beneath their skin is a layer of blubber that acts as insulation and keeps them warm. Blubber also helps the seals float in the water, and gives them energy when they can't find food.

Adult males weigh up to 250 pounds and are about six feet long. Adult females are a little smaller. Their fur ranges in color from light gray or tan to brown and red with black spots.

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Harbor seals make their homes in north Atlantic coastal waters. They are a little smaller than their California cousins, called sea lions. Some other kinds of seals include walruses, hooded seals, harp seals, and gray seals.

Harbor seals also like to adapt to tidal cycles of the ocean. During low tide, they rest together in groups and lie in the sun. During high tide, they swim together and look for food. Harbor seals like to eat flounder and herring.

For hundreds of years, a seal's greatest enemy has been man. Hunters have killed them for blubber, meat, and fur. But in 1972, the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed to protect them from being hunted or taken from the wild unless by permit.

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