Pacific harbor seal

Sheanna Steingass, Markus Horning

Latin name: Phoca vitulina richardii

Using satellite telemetry, we are tracking animals to describe how Pacific harbor seals use the coastal habitat of Oregon and how this is driven by environmental variables. This includes the first analysis of harbor seal presence within Oregon’s marine reserves, marine protected areas, and wave energy sites. We are also using stable isotope analysis to estimate dietary diversity and trophic niche of these animals. PI: Markus Horning

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Did you know? Harbor seals (5 subspecies) are found throughout the northern hemisphere. Harbor seal numbers were greatly reduced to less than 1,000 in Oregon through 1973, before which there was a state bounty for harvested harbor seals which were considered a pest species. There are now 10,000-12,000 state-wide.


Steingass S. Dietary composition of four stocks of Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) in the Northern California Current Large Marine Ecosystem as synthesized from historical data, 1931-2013. Northwest Naturalist. 2017; 98(1):8-23.

Steingass S, Horning M. (2017) Individual-based energetic model suggests bottom up mechanisms for the impact of coastal hypoxia on Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) foraging behavior. Journal of Theoretical Biology 416:190-198.