Significance to humans

True seals have been hunted for hundreds of years, serving as a source of food, oil, and hides or furs. In recent years, these products have been boycotted as a result of public pres-

Southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) mother and pup in the South Orkney Islands. (Photo by D. Larsen. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

A Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) sleeping on Paulet Island, Antartic Peninsula. (Photo by Rod Planck/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) mother and pup resting on an iceberg, South Sawyer Glacier, Alaska, USA. (Photo by John Hyde. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

sure against clubbing pups, and the market for these items has nearly vanished. Subsistence hunting of some species occurs on a very small scale. Commercial hunting of at least two species, harp and hooded seals, continues annually, but at a very reduced level. These hunts take many fewer pups than in the past and have a small market for the products. One offshoot of the pressure against hunting has been the evolution

Hawaiian Monk Seal
A harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) basking on land. (Photo by Joe McDonald. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

of a small eco-tourism industry centered on trips to the pack ice during the harp seal breeding season. As these trips are expensive, the industry is likely to remain small for species such as harp seals. However, for species like the northern elephant seal, which now breeds in accessible mainland colonies, controlled nature programs have become successful educational experiences.

Types Seals Animals

1. Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi); 2. Male hooded seal (Cystophora cristata); 3. Crab-eater seal (Lobodon carcinophagus); 4. Male northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris); 5. Female northern elephant seal. (Illustration by Jacqueline Mahannah)

Phocidae Pattern

1. Male gray seal (Halichoerus grypus); 2. Female gray seal (H. grypus); 3. Baikal seal (Phoca sibirica); 4. Harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus); 5. Harp seal pup; 6. Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii); 7. Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). (Illustration by Jacqueline Mahannah)

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