The Harp Seals of the Magdalen Islands (French Îles de la Madeleine)

with Jackline and Elston Hill

March, 2012
The Harp Seal (or saddleback seal) is a species of earless seal native to the northernmost Atlantic Ocean and parts of the
Arctic Ocean. We visited the
Gulf herd which breeds near the Magdalen Islands in the middle of the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, Canada
. This is our account of our short visit to these wonderful seals.

Click each link below to view our trip, or to see the whole trip, click the first link. At the bottom of each page will be a link to
the subsequent page in this series.

Below these links is some additional information about our trip.
We are grateful to WANT Expeditions for this trip as well as our wonderful trips to Greenland and the Pantanal. We would
not have known about the possibility of visiting the Harp Seal Pups were it not for this company. The group was small, only
four people, and we had a great time because we knew everyone from previous trips.

There are two other options for someone wanting to visit the Harp Seals. One is to book directly with the hotel.
Hotel-Chateau Madelinot,  Phone : (418) 986-3695 or 800-661-4537. It is the same package we got through WANT and it
is cheaper booked directly. The only thing different about the WANT Expeditions part of the trip was a 50 minute lecture on
harp seals one evening. I was also frustrated by the fact that our guide was late arriving.

Another option. Natural Habitat conducts a trip to see the Harp Seals. For me, their trip is a bit large, fifteen people.
However, I did talk with some of those on that trip and they were very enthusiastic. They were kept very busy with
excursions and lectures and  had dinners at locations other than the hotel. They mentioned liking the socialization of the
big group. And, they had three trip leaders.

Do remember that in 2010 and 2011 there was no trip to the ice because of warm winters. Also, the plane to the islands is
small, so you must book the expensive and non-refundable air fare months in advance to insure a seat on the plane.

Regarding the Hotel-Chateau Madelinot. The service was terrific. The staff was very friendly. The facilities very nice. The
meals were very good. Be sure you are staying at this hotel as their guests get priority on the helicopter flights. If you stay
somewhere else, you may not get on a helicopter flight.