♦ April 20, 2012
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Seals come in all different sizes and colors. They have a thick layer of blubber to keep themselves warm. Harbor seals are excellent swimmers and can stay under water for about 30 minutes. They glide their smooth bodies through the water by flapping their wide back flippers. On land, they slowly drag their bodies along with their front flippers. Seals have the same bones in their flippers that humans have in their hands. All seals shed their old coats each year to reveal new ones underneath. They can see very well under water, whereas on land their vision is a little blurry. Harbor seals don’t have external ears but they can hear. Seals can make many noises. They can bark, chirp, honk, cough, bleat, grunt or roar. A harbor seal at the New England Aquarium learned to say his name, “Hoover,” and phrases such as “Come over here” and “Get out of here!” A 1997 aerial survey counted nearly 31,000 harbor seals in the Gulf of Maine.