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Seal and Sea Lion Week

March 11, 2024

Join us for a week-long celebration of seals and other pinnipeds and get the scoop on NOAA's seal conservation efforts.

An animation showing several species of seals in their native habitats with the words "Seal & Sea Lion Week" across the top. Seal & Sea Lion Week is March 11-15, 2024.
Join us for Seal and Sea Lion Week, March 11–15, 2024, to learn more about the many different species we manage, protect, and study. Find out why seals are sentinels for ocean health and climate change. Explore the features below to learn about NOAA’s conservation efforts and methods.

Seal Features and Highlights

Recent Prescott Grant Supporting Seal and Sea Lion Conservation Partners

Our marine mammal network partners leverage the Prescott Grant Program's competitive grants to improve their stranding response and investigation capabilities for pinniped conservation.

Our partners use competitive grants to improve pinniped conservation

Spotted, gray harp seal on sandy shore moving towards the ocean water.
A harp seal, an ice associated species, was picked up by Stranding Network responders in Rhode Island. The mid-Atlantic is further south than what is considered “typical” for ice seals. The young seal was rehabilitated and later released. Credit: Mystic Aquarium

Meet Makana—One of the First Hawaiian Monk Seal Pups of 2024

Spring and summer are two of our favorite seasons when it comes to Hawaiian monk seals. Why? Because it’s peak pupping season! Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response partnered with Kahuku Elementary School to name the first Hawaiian monk seal pup of Oʻahu in 2024.

Meet one of the first Hawaiian monk seal pups of 2024

A mother Hawaiian monk seal and her pup lay side by side on a sandy beach.
Hawaiian monk seal RK80 (Keolakai) gave birth to her first pup, Makana, in February 2024 on Oʻahu. Credit Hawaiʻi Marine Animal Response (NOAA Fisheries Permit #24359)

Some Research Takes a Lifetime—Like the Northern Elephant Seal

Long-term research under Marine Mammal Protection Act scientific research permits provides insight into northern elephant seal moms and pups.

Learn about northern elephant seal research in California 

Elephant sea lion on the beach
Example of a male elephant seal nose. Photo taken under NOAA Fisheries MMPA Permit # 23188.

Podcast: Hawaiian Monk Seal Pupping Season

This is a special time of year in the Hawaiian Islands—it's pupping season for Hawaiian monk seals! March through August is peak pupping season and NOAA Fisheries experts in the Pacific Islands work with partners to protect the pups during this critical time.

Learn about Hawaiian monk seal pupping season

A Hawaiian monk seal pup lays in the sand
A young, female Hawaiian monk seal pup, identified as "PM6," lying in the sand at Kalaupapa, Molokai in 2017. This is the fourth pup of mom "RI25." Credit: NOAA/Tracy Mercer (Permit #16632-02).

Life on an Active Volcano: Fur Seals Adapt to a Changing Landscape on Bogoslof Island

Biologists returned to Bogoslof Island—the tip of a 6,000-foot underwater volcano—for the first time in 4 years. When they returned, they found that the island and the distribution of northern fur seals on it were radically different. Read both parts of this series to learn how our scientists track the fur seal population on Bogoslof and the effects of recent eruptions and subsequent erosion. 

Learn about northern fur seals on Bogoslof Island

Dark brown northern fur seals on the beach of a island with an active smoking volcano in the background
Northern fur seal rookery on the shores of Bogoslof Island, an active volcano on the Aleutian chain. In the background, the volcano’s vent steams in this photo from August 2019. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Paul Hillman taken under NOAA Fisheries Permit #14327.

Another Year Of Protecting A Precious Population

Hawaiian monk seal monitoring and recovery work in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was marked by partnerships, pups, and promise in 2023.

Read about efforts to recover these endangered seals

Adult monk seal lying on the sand, eyes open, facing the camera, with a darker-colored pup on its left side, resting on a sandy beach with the ocean visible in the background. The pup’s right foreflipper is extended, touching the mother seal.
Monk seal mother and pup on Hōlanikū (Kure Atoll). Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Sarah Glover (Permit #22677, PMNM-2023-001)

Seals, Sea Lions, and Climate Change: Shifting Prey and Habitat Impacts

Several seal and sea lions species are sensitive to the impacts of climate change due to their dependence on specific environmental conditions during different times of the year. For example, ice seals need sea ice to rest, breed, nurse and rear pups, molt, and avoid predators. Less sea ice leaves them vulnerable to predators and other threats.

Learn more about the threat of climate change for several seal and sea lion species

Juvenile, spotted harp seal on sheet of ice floating above water near snowy/icy land.
A juvenile harp seal is monitored in Rye, New Hampshire. The seal was eventually relocated by trained responders because it moved too close to a main road. Credit: Seacoast Science Center

Fun Facts About Surprising Seals

Want to know more about those cute bewhiskered seals? Look no further!

Learn fun facts about seals

Harbor and gray seals hauled out in Chatham, Massachusetts.

California Sea Lions as Ecosystem Indicators

California sea lions are outstanding ecosystem indicators because they consume a variety of forage species. Changes in their diet over time can be linked to changing ocean conditions that affect the availability of their prey. We've been studying their diet for 40 years by analyzing their scat (aka poop!).

Learn more about the connection between sea lion diet and climate change

Several brown and tan California sea lions rest on top of rocky ground with seabirds while tidal wave crashes in the background.
California sea lions at San Nicholas Island in the southern Channel Islands. Credit: U.S. Navy/Greg Sanders

Seal or Sea Lion?

Seals and sea lions are both pinnipeds, which means fin- or flipper-footed in Latin. Although seals and sea lions have similarities, they also have several distinct characteristics and adaptations that distinguish them from one another.

Learn how to tell seals and sea lions apart 

Infographic showing illustrated seal and sea lion and describing the differences between the two animals, such as ears, body size, flippers, etc.
At first glance, seals (true or “eared seals”) and sea lions look fairly similar. Taking a closer look, these are some of the general differences to tell these animals, such as on the harbor seal (left) and California sea lion (right) pictured above.

6 Ways We Study Seals and Sea Lions

When it comes to studying seals and seal lions, these methods get a “seal of approval” from our scientists.

How we study seals and sea lions

Baby seal with rookery and beach in background
Fur seal.

An Entangled Web: Research Collaboration Unravels Causes and Consequences of Sea Lion Entanglements

Tracking individual sea lions helps reveal a toll on this species.

Research collaboration unravels causes and consequences of sea lion entanglements

disentangled sea lion on beach with a satellite tag on back
California sea lion “Bubbles” released after disentanglement, heading back to the ocean with a satellite tag to help us better understand their movements. Photo credit: Jeff Harris, NMFS Permit 16087-02

Hawaiian Monk Seal Updates

Get the latest monk seal updates—including new pups, relocations, and seal rescues—from NOAA Fisheries in the Pacific Islands.

Hawaiian monk seal updates 

Hawaiian monk seal resting on his back on a remote beach.
A temporary satellite tag allows NOAA to monitor Koalani’s exploration of his ocean environment (when he’s not napping!). Credit: Hawaii Marine Animal Response (NOAA Fisheries Permit #18786)

An Isolated Population of Antarctic Fur Seals Could Save the Species, but They’re Disappearing

Losing fur seals from the South Shetland Islands means losing crucial genetic diversity the species may need to adapt to rapid climate change.

Isolated population of Antarctic fur seals

fur seal pups on rocky beach, Antarctica
Antarctic fur seal pups at Cape Shirreff, Livingston Island, Antarctica. MMPA permit number: 25786. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Sergio Morales

Studying Northern Fur Seals in Remote Alaska

Scientists plan to further test drones to help conduct their research more efficiently.

Studying northern fur seals in remote Alaska

Photo of Katie Sweeney, holding a remote control console, and Brian Fadely, holding a drone, on a Bogoslof Island beach..
Katie Sweeney and Brian Fadely prepare to launch a drone on Bogoslof Island, Alaska. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

Seal Ecology and Assessment Research in the Northwest Atlantic

We study the ecology of seals in the Northwest Atlantic to support conservation management and promote public stewardship of a healthy and diverse marine environment.

Read about seal research in the Northwest Atlantic

A larger harbor seal and a smaller gray seal swim at the center of a circular illustration of an ecosystem to portray the vital role that seals play in supporting the food web and enhancing biodiversity. The illustration shows a tour boat with visitors viewing a seal in the distance to represent how seals provide recreational and tourism opportunities. The harbor seal chases a school of sand lances and small hake on the left, to show how seals consume a diverse diet of mostly small fish.

Share the Shore with Seals

Please, No Selfies with the Seals: 6 Ways to View Wildlife Responsibly

Although it can be tempting to try to get close to marine animals, it’s always best to view them from a safe and respectful distance, for their safety—and yours. Learning how to interact with and observe ocean animals can help you make the right decisions when you encounter them by water, land, or air.

6 Ways to View Wildlife Responsibly

It's normal for me to be on shore. I don't need to go swimming. I'm resting and need my space. I'm not a selfie prop! Please stay back at least one hundred feet. Share the Shore

Sharing Seal Space by the Seashore: Introduction to the Greater Atlantic Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Explore the story map, which shows seal strandings in the Greater Atlantic Region and highlights the organizations that provide emergency response and rehabilitation for stranded seals.

Sharing seal space by the sea shore story map

Harbor seals near the water on the beach in Chatham, Ma.
Harbor seals in Chatham, Massachusetts.