Hooded Seals are found at high latitudes within the North Atlantic; seasonally they extend their range north into the Arctic Ocean, as well as south into the North Sea in the Northeast Atlantic. They breed on pack ice and are associated with it much of the year, though they spend significant periods of time pelagically, without hauling out (Lavigne and Kovacs 1988, Folkow and Blix 1999). There are four major pupping areas: near the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St Lawrence, north of Newfoundland in an area known as the “Front,” the Davis Strait (Sergeant 1974) and in the West Ice in the Greenland Sea near the island of Jan Mayen. Hooded Seals wander extensively sometimes; young animals have come ashore as far south as Portugal and the Canary Islands in Europe and south into the Caribbean in the West Atlantic (Kovacs and Lavigne 1986). They are increasingly common in recent years on Sable Island and along the New England coast (Harris et al. 2001, Lucas and Daoust 2002). They have also been found outside the Atlantic in the eastern Beaufort Sea and an adult female stranded in southern California in 1992 (Dudley 1992, Rice 1998, Kovacs 2002). Since the mid 1990s large numbers of vagrant Hooded Seals have been found away from the Arctic in some years; the numbers of these sightings are increasing for unknown reasons (Mignucci-Giannoni and Haddow 2002, Harris and Gupta 2006).
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