Here is the mammal
that is most likely to be seen by a visitor to coastal British Columbia.
Curious, sleek, and so at home in the water, Harbour seals have always
intrigued we land mammals.
But put them ashore, and they become almost comical. Their sleek,
streamlined bodies lie on exposed rocks like great perogies, touching
the ground only at their midsections. Unlike sea lions, Harbour Seals
cannot move themselves on land using their flippers, so they do a
sort of a hop-flop to get back to the water.
Males may weight
140 kilograms, and the females a little more than half that. They
are very variable in colour, with the most common pattern a buff
colour with darker spots. A single pup is born in early summer,
and is often left alone on shore for considerable periods; these
animals should be left alone, for the mother will return.
are increasing, since a ban on their control as fisheries pests.
They are very clever at removing fish from nets, and more than one
salmon fisher has reeled in less than a complete prize.
are commonly seen on or near the ocean, their round heads and whiskers
just above the surface. Watch for them also on offshore rocks, where
they may gather in numbers to loaf and sleep. Their varied pelage
blends well with the rocky substrate, so a careful look may reward