Diet & Eating Habits

Harbor Seal

Diet & Eating Habits

Food Preferences and Resources

  1. Adult harbor seals eat squid, crustaceans, molluscs, and a variety of fish; including, rockfish, herring, flounder, salmon, hake, and sand lance.
  2. A harbor seal's diet varies seasonally and regionally and often is subject to local prey availability.

Food Intake

  1. Adult harbor seals eat 5% to 6% of their body weight per day, about 4.5 to 8.2 kg (10-18 lb.).

Feeding Habits

  1. Harbor seals don't chew their food. They swallow their food whole or tear it into chunks. With their back molars, they crush shells and crustaceans.
  2. Although they have sharp teeth, harbor seals swallow their food
    whole or tear it into chunks.


  1. In dark or low light conditions, a harbor seal uses its sensitive vibrissae to find food.

Water Intake

  1. Harbor seals generally obtain the water they need from their food. If food intake is decreased, the metabolic breakdown of fat produces water. The metabolism of 0.45 kg (1 lb.) of fat produces 0.64 kg (1.4 lb.) of water.