Pinniped Species


Hooded Seal

Scientific Name: Cystophora cristata
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Phocidae
Genus: Cystophora
Species: cristata
Other Common Names: Hooded Seal
Average Length: Males-8 ft. Females-7 ft.
Average Weight: Males-660lbs. Females-440lbs.

Hooded seals inhabit the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic.  Hooded seals do migrate during the summer and fall and can drift far from their northern breeding grounds.


These seals are named for their elastic bi-lobed nasal cavity or “hood” that adult males can inflate and extend.  They have black heads with a silver-gray coat covering the rest of their body.  Pups have a blue-gray coat and whitish bellies.

Diet in the Wild: Crustaceans, squid, starfish, mussels and fish such as capelin and cod.

Hooded seals are founding living on drifting pack ice in deep waters. Though they may drift to warmer waters, they survive best in colder climates.


The breeding season for Hooded seals begins in late winter and lasts through April.  Females reach sexual maturity at about 3-6 years of age and males at about 5-7 years of age.  When on the breeding ground, animals will stay there for 2-3 weeks to produce young and complete their annual molt before beginning their migration cycle. Once born, pups are weaned in a mere 3-5 days, which is the shortest time of any known mammal.

Conservation Status:

The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) began managing the seal harvesting in the 1970s in international waters.  They also prohibited the hunting of pups.  A seal management plan was put into effect in 1992.

Threats in the Wild:

Historically, these seals were heavily hunted for oil, leather and the pups uniquely colored pelt; Illegal hunting still continues.  These seals are also often caught as by-catch.

Fun Facts: Besides being called Hooded seals, they are also referred to as the bladder-nosed seal.
Resident Animals: none