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Where We Live by John Silveira and Richard Blunt. Photos and commentary from Oregon and New England.

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Archive for the ‘Harbor seals’ Category


Harbor seals of Oregon, Part 1

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

The seals that hang around the Port of Gold Beach are called harbor seals. If there are other species of seals here, I haven’t seen them, yet. There are sea lions here, too, but I only recently learned to tell the difference between seals and sea lions. The quickest way is that the seals are “earless” whereas the sea lions have external ears. Both are thought to have evolved from an otter/bear-like animal, over 20 million years ago.

The harbor seals I’ve seen seem to come in various colors ranging from a blackish-brown to almost tan, while others are almost a bluish-grey. As near as I can tell they’re all  spotted, with the darker colored seals having light spots and the lighter-colored seals having dark spots.

The harbor seals that live here are here pretty much year-round.

These three photos below were all taken with a Canon 60D camera. For the first one I used an EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens. I sat at a picnic table on one side of the port, so I could steady my camera, while I shot them on the other side of the port. For the other two I used an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens. All three photos were blown up and cropped.

The harbor seals like to loll around in the port, often wiggling their way up onto the sand and gravel bars where dozens of them lie sunning themselves for hours on end. If they sprawl out there at low tide, they don't seem bothered by the rising water as the tide comes back in. From what I've read, they're well-insulated against the cold with a coat of thick fur and a thick subcutaneous layer of blubber. They also seem to find no discomfort in sleeping on rocky beaches.

Shutter speed 1/640     f-stop 8     ISO 100     focal length 400mm


The harbor seals will not only crawl up onto beaches and gravel bars, they'll also get up on the docks where they can lie for hours. As you can see, many of them stared at me, curious about my presence the morning I was photographing them

Shutter speed 1/800    f-stop 5     ISO 100     focal length 200mm


Though wary of humans, harbor seals are curious by nature and this one swam back and forth off the north jetty, at the mouth of the Rogue River, watching me. It seemed to be as curious about me as I was about it.

Shutter speed 1/250    f-stop 11     ISO 2000     focal length 200mm




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