Field Guide - Spotted Seal

< All Field Guides

Lloyd Lowry, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Adult spotted seal
0-4 week old spotted seal pup

Spotted Seal

Phoca largha

Number of Confirmed Sightings: 0

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Phocidae
Genus: Phoca
Species: largha

Description: Spotted seals are found in the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Northern Bering Seas in the summer months and in the southern Bering Sea and Aleutian islands in the winter. They rely on sea ice to breed, give birth, and rest. Spotted seals are visually indistinguishable from harbor seals where the ranges of the two species overlap in the southern Bering Sea.

Population status: There are no accurate population estimates for spotted seals in Alaska, but loss of sea ice due to climate change is a potential threat to their habitat and food sources, however they are not officially listed as threatened or endangered.

General characteristics: About 5 feet in length and 200 pounds as an adult, and have light gray or silver coats with dark spots on most of body.

Female defining traits: Slightly smaller than males.

Male defining traits: Slightly larger than females.  

Juvenile defining traits: At birth they are about 3 feet and 26 pounds with off-white fine downy fur for about a month, which is then molted to adult coloring. Young are weaned after 3– 4 weeks.

Diet in the wild: Shrimp, fish, octopus, and crustaceans, but diet varies with location and time of year.

Reproductive cycle: Reach sexual maturity at age 4–5 and give birth in April-May. Females have one pup per year after 11 months of gestation.

Predators in the wild: Sleeper sharks, orcas, walrus, polar bears, sea lions, and wolves; birds may prey on younger seals.

Similar species: Harbor and ringed seals.