|Harp Seal Mothers and Pups of the Magdalen Islands
Newborn pups weigh around 24 pounds and are 31 to33 inches long. After birth, the mother nurses the pup for 12 days.
During that period the mother does not eat, losing up to 7 pounds per day. Harp seal milk contains up to 48% fat, so pups
gain over 5 pounds a day. During this time, the juvenile's "greycoat" grows in beneath the white neonatal coat, and it weighs
80 pounds. Weaning is abrupt. The mother turns from nursing to promiscuous mating, leaving the pup behind on the ice.
For the first 24 hours, the pup has a yellow color from being in the placenta. However, this color soon washes off leaving a
white coloring. The pup below is probably only a few hours old.
Since seals do not have good eye sight out of water, they use the sense of smell to identify their young on the ice.
After feeding her pup, this mother went into a hole in the ice and then came back up to nuzzle her pup.
It was possible to get very close to the pups when their mothers wandered off for a little peace and quiet. Touching a pup
seal does not cause the mother to reject the pup.
At this point, we were so close that my lens got steamed up!