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The Making of a Diorama

The Habitat Views video considers ways of looking at dioramas today, and documents the creation of several new displays. Take a look over on our  YouTube channel >

Recreating Nature Indoors

Ever wonder who made the dioramas in our mammal halls? Read all about the artists who created these wonderful scenes. Learn more >

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Harbor seal

Phoca vitulina (Linnaeus, 1758)

Harbor seal diorama in the North American Mammal Hall


 California Coast south of Monterey

Background artist:

 J. Robert Sewell

Also present:

 Pacific Golden-Plover (Pluvialis fulva),
Black Turnstone (Arenaria melanocephala),
Heerman's Gull (Larus heermanni)

When feeding, harbor seals typically remain submerged for up to 10 minutes and reach depths of 160 feet. However they are able to dive for up to 60 minutes and to descend more than 1,000 feet.

Biological Information

Range map for the harbor seal


Coastal North America: Long Island to Arctic Ocean and Baja California to western Alaska


Near shore, sheltered bays, river estuaries


Common where undisturbed


Fish (tom cod, hake, sculpin), squid, shrimp

Further information about this species may be found on the Animal Diversity Web page for harbor seal.