Communication and Perception
The main form of long and short distance communication for Pagophilus groenlandicus is underwater calling. Research suggests that harp seals actually listen to individual calls and respond with a specific response, rather than making random sounds. By actually listening to calls, seals can avoid masking other seals' calls. Harp seals may use underwater calling to attract mates and to coordinate herds. (MarineBio.org, 2009; Serrano and Terhune, 2002)
Besides underwater calling, harp seals may use clicks, trills, and other chirp-like sounds on land, especially to attract mates or to respond to a predator getting too close to a pup. Terrestrial communication is quite uncommon. ("Harp Seals", 2004; MarineBio.org, 2009; Novak, 1999; Schliemann, 1990)
Harp seals have acute vision and hearing, which is incredibly strong underwater, but a very poor sense of smell. (Novak, 1999)
- Novak, R. 1999. Pagophilus groenlandicus. Pp. 887-888 in Walker’s Mammals of the World, Vol. Volume II, Sixth Edition. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.