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This was a feisty two week old Harp Seal that I spent a lot of time photographing.
Harp Seals never touch land but spent their entire life on and with the ice. As a means of reducing predatation the entire Harp Seal population give birth almost simultaneously. Harp Seal pups are that beautiful pure white color for only three weeks, so timing your visit is everything for the serious photographer.
The biggest most accessible population of calving Harp Seals is on the ice fields surrounding the Magdalene Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. To get to the Harp Seals We had to fly by helicopter from the Magdalene Islands to wherever the Seals happen to be on the ice. You almost have to book with a tour to get to the Harp Seals because the helicopters will be brought in especially for, and entirely reserved in advance by the tour groups.
The females will nurse their pups for only three weeks before weaning them and mating with the males that are waiting in the wings. The gestation period for a Harp Seal is the same nine months as humans. In order for the pup's birth to take place at the proper time the following year the embryo doesn't implant for a couple of months after conception. This means that an female Harp Seal is pregnant for about 95% of her adult life.
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This page was last updated: July 05, 2011