These playful creatures have a spotted coat that can range from silver to dark brown, ear holes (no external ear flaps), and small rear flippers. Males are larger than females; a large male can weigh up to 300 pounds. They have short front flippers that enable them to "galumph" or belly-flop across land, but they move much easier in the water. They can dive 1400 feet and stay submerged for up to 40 minutes while searching for sole, flounder, cod, herring, squid, crustaceans, and other foods, and their nostrils can remain closed while they're submerged.
There are approximately 500,000 Pacific Harbor Seals worldwide, and they can be found on both U.S. coasts. Along the Pacific Coast they can be seen from Alaska to Mexico, and there are 32 sites along the Oregon coast where they can be reliably found. They can be hard to spot when they're in the water. Look for something that appears to be a tabloid photo of the Loch Ness Monster. When they're not in the water, you can find them on rocky islands, sandy beaches, and mudflats, often resting in a C-shaped position with their head and their rear flippers curved upward. Just look for a large silver or brown banana sunning itself. 😄
A mother seal will occasionally leave her pup for several hours while feeding, and well-meaning people will assume the pup has been abandoned. It is important to leave the pup alone and to keep your distance. Do not move the pup, put it in the water, or cover it up. Instead, just leave the area so the mother will feel it's safe to return.