In New Hampshire, there are two types of seals that can be found: Harbor Seals and Gray Seals. Known for their playful and energetic displays, seals have earned the nickname “ocean puppies.” Harbor Seals are mostly white with mottled gray-black markings on their backs, while Gray Seals have light gray coats with black mottling. Harbor Seals spend most of their time hunting at sea but come ashore to rest, often in groups. Gray Seals, on the other hand, can be found on ice floes or sandy beaches in the North Atlantic, gathering in large groups during the breeding season. These fascinating marine mammals have unique hunting techniques and provide an exciting sight for those lucky enough to spot them in the waters of New Hampshire.
Types of Seals Found in New Hampshire
New Hampshire is home to two main species of seals: the Harbor Seal and the Gray Seal. These adorable and fascinating creatures can be spotted along the coastlines of New Hampshire, and their playful nature and unique characteristics make them a delightful sight for both locals and tourists.
Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina)
The Harbor Seal, scientifically known as Phoca vitulina, is one of the most common seal species found in New Hampshire. These seals are known for their adorable appearance, with their cat-like noses and wide, deep eyes. Adults can reach a length of 5-6 feet (1.5-1.8 meters) and weigh between 180-285 lbs (81-130 kilograms). They are mostly white in color, with mottled gray-black markings on their backs.
Harbor Seals spend most of their time hunting for fish, shellfish, and crustaceans at sea. However, they also come ashore to rest on beaches, reefs, and glacial ice drifts. Unlike some other seal species, Harbor Seals spend time in groups while on land, resting in packs to avoid predators.
Due to their adorable appearance, Harbor Seals often attract attention from humans. However, it is important to observe these seals from a distance and avoid feeding or disturbing them. Feeding Harbor Seals, or any other wild marine mammal, can cause issues with aggression, territory disputes, and displacement.
Gray Seal (Halichoerus grypus)
The Gray Seal, also known as Halichoerus grypus, is another seal species found in New Hampshire. These seals have a distinct appearance, with light gray coats and black mottling, along with lighter patches. Adult Gray Seals can grow to a length of 7.5-10 feet (2.3-3 meters) and weigh between 550-880 lbs (249-400 kilograms).
Gray Seals can be found on ice floes or sandy beaches in the North Atlantic. During the breeding season, they gather in large groups, often referred to as “haul-outs.” Interestingly, Gray Seals do not eat while breeding and raising their young. Instead, they rely on fat stores accumulated during the non-breeding season.
Gray Seal pups are known for their constant vocalization to keep in contact with their mothers, and the sound they make has been compared to that of human babies. Outside of the breeding season, Gray Seals spend most of their time searching for food. Their exceptional vision and hearing make them skilled hunters, and their diet mainly consists of fish and crustaceans. However, they have been known to occasionally catch and eat seabirds.
Other Mammals in New Hampshire
In addition to seals, New Hampshire is home to a variety of other fascinating mammals. From land-dwelling animals to marine creatures, there is a rich diversity of wildlife to be found in this area.
New Hampshire is known for its diverse range of mammal species. Some of the commonly found mammals in the state include white-tailed deer, moose, black bears, coyotes, and red foxes. These animals can be spotted in various regions of New Hampshire, including forests, mountains, and open grasslands.
While seals are one of the iconic marine mammals of New Hampshire, the state’s waters are also frequented by dolphins. There are nine types of dolphins that can be found in New Hampshire, each with its own unique characteristics and behaviors. Dolphin sightings can be a thrilling experience, as these intelligent creatures are known for their acrobatic displays and playful nature.
New Hampshire offers a unique opportunity to observe and appreciate the fascinating wildlife that can be found in its coastal areas and beyond. The Harbor Seal and Gray Seal are two of the most beloved seal species in the region, each with their own distinct characteristics and behaviors. However, it is important to remember that these animals are wild creatures and should be observed from a distance.
If you have the chance to spot a seal or any other mammal in New Hampshire, be sure to share your sightings with others. It is a joyful experience to witness these magnificent animals in their natural habitat, and by sharing your sightings, you can help raise awareness about the importance of protecting these creatures and their habitats for future generations to enjoy. So, grab your binoculars and head out to the beautiful coast of New Hampshire for a chance to spot these incredible seals in person!