Seeing seals on the beach or a boat ride is a once-in-a-lifetime event for anyone, no matter their age. When they swim around and poke their heads out of the water, as well as while sunbathing on the sand — especially the pups — these marine creatures are just adorable.

Seal watching in Cape Cod if you’ve never seen seals before or if you’d like to see them again. Great news! Cape Cod seal trips are available. Before you head to the spot, know some of the incredible species of seals you will find there. 

Types of Seals in Cape Cod

There are four primary species of Cape Cod seals in the area. Gray seals and harbor seals are two of those species that are considered residents and can be seen all year. Harp seals and hooded seals occasionally travel to the Cape throughout the winter and spring months, while hooded seals are an uncommon encounter. Below you will read in depth. 

Gray Seals

  • These seals have longer snouts; that’s why they are commonly referred to as “horseheads.”
  • Gray seals’ scientific name is Halichoerus grypus. 
  • Babies are born with lanugo, a grayish white fur, from December to February. Three weeks after birth, they will lose their lanugo. Pups breastfeed for around 18 days before being left alone.
  • Males and females differ in size, form, and coloration, making them sexually dimorphic. Males can grow to be twice as big as females, with massive heads and snouts. Males tend to be dark with light spots, whilst females tend to be light with black spots. With the help of seal boat trips, you can see them quite closely. 

Harp Seals

  • They are the noisiest of the seals, yet when they are attacked, they will pretend to be dead as a defensive technique.
  • Babies are born on ice in the Arctic in the months of February and March. They are born with a fluffy white coat called a lanugo, which keeps them warm on the ice and is removed once the puppies have weaned. For around 12 days, the puppies stay with their mother and breastfeed.
  • Each age group has a distinct appearance: pups have a white coat, while juveniles have a light coat with a large number of spots. 

Harbor Seals 

  • They have fur and faces that look like puppy dogs.
  • Pups are born in northern New England, particularly in Maine, from May through June. They will nurse for around 4 weeks, and the mother may leave the pup to seek food occasionally.
  • Babies can swim within minutes of birth and occasionally follow Mom on her foraging forays at sea.
  • Babies’ vocalizations that sound like “ma, ma” or “no, no” are sometimes heard. In addition, Chatham boat company allows you to see these cuties. 
  • Generally, they dwell in the Arctic and give birth to their young on ice; harp and hooded seals are called “ice seals.”  

Hooded Seals

  • Males have an adjustable hood that can be expanded to resemble a giant red balloon by blowing out their nasal septum. They do this to lure females, defend their territory, and frighten other males.
  • Little ones are born on ice in mid-March. The breastfeeding time for these pups is the shortest of any seal species. It’s only four days!!! Puppies can quadruple in size every day at this time!
  • They have countershading — black on top, light on the bottom – juveniles are called “BlueBacks.” Adults have a bluish gray coat with irregular black splotches.

That’s the end of the list!