Tag Archives: Canadian seal hunt

Creature Spotlight [Harp Seals]

Unique animals with a history of endangerment, harp seals are wild ice lovers.

 In A Massacre in Canada,  Monday’s “Weekly Feature”, we discussed the annual Canadian seal hunt (which is taking place now), and the brutal slaughtering of hundreds of thousands of harp seals. An agile, odd-looking creature, most of us have only encountered seals in zoos and wildlife water enclosures. But, what makes seals special, especially the harp seal?

(Photo Via: Animals.nationalgeographic.com)

(Photo Via: Animals.nationalgeographic.com)

Given their name because of a harp-like pattern on an adult’s back (which can be seen after moulting – the shedding of their fur), harp seals are born weighing a little over 20 pounds with no blubber or fat, and must depend on their fluffy white fur, and the milk of their mothers, for warmth. Going through a 6 stage life process, harp seals learn to defend for themselves between 12-18 days old. They learn to swim the frigid, icy waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, and being carnivorous, they feed on cod, herring, shrimp, and many other fish and crustaceans they share the waters with.

Averaging a life span of 20-30 years in the wild, and weighing between 300-400 pounds, adult harp seals spend most of their life in the water, following the ice as it recedes north. Coming together to mate, give birth, feed, and migrate, these groups of harp seals is called a colony. While there has been no social system or hierarchy recorded of harp seals, scientists have recorded over 19 different calls made by harp seals to one another.

(Photo Via: Harpseals.org)

(Photo Via: Harpseals.org)

The biggest predators to harp seals in their natural environment include polar bears and whales. However, humans also pose a huge threat to these animals. Commercially hunted for their meat, oils, fur, and skin since the 1700’s, hundreds of thousands of harp seals are beaten, slaughtered, and skinned in Canada, Norway, and Russia. Luckily though, they are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, making it illegal to hunt or sell their parts in the United States.

Loving the icy cold that most of us despise, being able to hold their breath underwater for almost 15 minutes, and having acute underwater vision and hearing (even though they have no external ear flaps), harp seals are an intriguing, special species. Deserving more protection from human hunting, visit Harpseals.org to find out the many ways you can help these interesting creatures.

Harp Seal Quiz

It is now time for the “Creature Spotlight” quiz! Can you guess the correct answer?

Make sure to check back in tomorrow during “Veggie Food Guide” for the answer to today’s quiz!

*Sources: Bioweb.uwlax.edu, Animals.nationalgeographic.com, Nwf.org, Mysticaquarium.org, Nmfs.noaa.gov, animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu, Harpseals.org*

A Massacre in Canada

Today starts the hunt. Not the hunt for knowledge or treasure, but the hunt for murder.

Every year, around March and April, when the new spring harp seal babies shed their fuzzy white coats, which usually starts at 12 days old, thousands of Canadian fishermen make their way to the Canadian Atlantic coastline. However, they are not there for the fish.

(Photo Via: Goodnature.nathab.com)

(Photo Via: Goodnature.nathab.com)

They come bearing clubs or hakapiks – a stick with a hooked blade guns, and knives. These fishermen proceed to brutally slaughter hundreds of thousands of seals, the majority being infants (any seal over 12 days old is legal to kill). They club them to death, hitting them repeatedly over the head until they die. Now, according to new “standards” set in 2008 by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), sealers are supposed to puncture the skull to make sure the seal is dead. After, they bleed the dead seals by slitting arteries located under the front flippers, then proceed to skin them.

(Photo Via: Canadiansealhunt.com)

(Photo Via: Canadiansealhunt.com)

This year, starting today on April 14, 2014, 400,000 harp seals are legally able to be killed, a quota set by the DFO. The majority of those seals are no older than 3 months, and their pelts, oil, and meat is sold while the rest of the seal will be discarded. Claiming also as a reason for the hunt, the DFO states that harp seals are eating all the cod. However, a seals diet only consists of 3% of cod, while the majority of their diet is fish that are actually predators to cod.

Currently, more than 30 countries have stopped their involvement with the seal trade, one of which is the United States. However, many countries still participate, the majority being Norway, Germany, China, and Greenland.

An annual massacre that is both brutal and unnecessary, the Canadian seal hunt needs to be stopped. Luckily, with fellow animal activists, your voice can be heard. Visit Harpseals.org to figure out how YOU can help end the inhumane murder of hundreds of thousands of baby and adult seals.

Want to make a bigger impact? Contact the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans directly. Feel free to express yourself in your own way (keep it clean and educated though!), or use the outline below provided by Animal Culture.


I am appalled by the annual Canadian seal hunt. Hundreds of thousands of seals are brutally murdered, and it is unnecessary. 

Because of the continued ban of the seal trade in more than 30 countries, your market for seal skins, oil, and meat has dropped drastically, making this hunt irrelevant. I also understand that a reason for the hunt is that the seals are eating all the cod. However, only 3% of a seal’s diet is cod, and the majority of the seal’s diet consists of fish that are predators to cod. 

People from all over the world, including most Canadians, oppose the seal hunt. Because of this seal hunt, Canada is appearing insensitive and behind-the-times with the condoning and involvement in the seal hunt. Please, I urge you to stop this massacre of innocent baby and adult seals. Until this ends, I will not be purchasing Canadian seafood, anything made of seals, and will urge all my family and friends to do the same.

End the Canadian seal hunt!

Signed: (Your Name)


Below is the email for Gail Shea, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. She is the one responsible for setting the seal hunt kill quota.


Secondly, send an email to Keith Hutchings, Fisheries Minister for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where the majority of the seal hunt takes place.


*Sources: Harpseals.org, Liberationbc.org, Seashepherd.org, Hsi.org,*