|Description and life Cycle Continued:
By late February to early March the females(cows) haul themselves onto the pack ice and stake a claim to an
adequately sheltered area for giving birth. Newborns(pups) weigh about 11kg(24.3 lbs) and are roughly 85cm(2.8 feet) in length.
Harp seal pups are one of the fastest growing mammals and have a yellow color coat at birth at which time they are aptly named 'Yellowcoats'. Within three days
the coat turns to a pure white when they are renamed to 'Whitecoats'. Along with their rapid growth
comes a rapid child rearing. They only nurse for about 2 weeks before being abandoned by the mother to fend for
themselves but over this period gain a remarkable 24kg(52.9 lbs). After the constant care of the first two days,
the pups have little contact with the mother. Most of the mother and pup time together being for nursing which
takes place roughly six times a day for ten minute periods. Over three quarters of the pups time is spent sleeping.
After the pup is abandoned it begins to moult(shed) its coat, now called a 'Raggedy-Jacket', which over an eighteen
day period is replaced with a silver colored coat with small dark spots. During this time the pups will not eat and
will continue to do so for roughly another two weeks by which time they will lose about 10kg(22 lbs). While this is
happening the breeding season has taken place and the adult seals begin to moult, roughly around the beginning of
April. Shortly after the pups are abandoned by the female she is courted by suitable males and breeding commences.
The young seals, now known as 'Beaters' will then begin to feed on small crab and shrimp. After the adult
seals have moulted the herd will slowly begin to make its way back to the Arctic by following the receding pack ice.
When the harp seal reaches fourteen months of age it is called a 'Bedlamer'. When the harp seal matures its coat takes on a light grey
appearance with the head and tail turning black and a white belly. Males also develop a harp shaped band across their
back which signifies sexual maturity. The head and tail coloring is lighter in the females who also may develop dark
Harp seals use their hind fins for propulsion which makes them agile and swift swimmers. They have been known
to range over an area of 3200km(1988 miles) and have the ability to dive as deep as 275m(902 feet). Harp seals have very good eye
sight and are highly sensitive to vibrations.
Harp seals are not an endangered or even threatened species and are given a common status.