they bask on the sand bars, even creeping up on them in a silent kayak, they raise their heads like sentinels and watch your every move, full of caution and curiosity, until at the critical distance, when nervousness evolves into the feeling of threat, they slide into the water where they feel safe. They will surround your boat, their heads poking out of the water, still reserved but interested, their big brown eyes wide with both wary and wonder. They are cumbersome on land, wiggling and scooting on their bellies, but in the water they are swift and agile, their torpedo-like bodies capable of underwater acrobatics.This sub species of harbor seal ranges from Cedros Island, a little more than a third of the way down the Baja California peninsula, to Alaska’s Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. They are not endangered; their total population surpasses 300,000. There are over 150 in Netarts Bay, perhaps as many as 200. They do not migrate but remain mostly in the bay, protected from predators such as killer whales, sharks, and steller sea lions, occasionally venturing into the ocean to roam, but not far from shore. They are opportunistic feeders, eating fish, crustaceans, including Dungeness crabs, squid, and mollusks. They generally swallow their food whole.
Their color is generally gray-brown with an arrangement of darker spots and rings unique on each individual. Their pelage, or fur, consists of coarse guard hairs underlain with dense, fine under hairs, which they molt annually. During the summer you may see some seals with a growth of green alga on their backs. Insulation is not provided by their coat but by a layer of blubber, which has blood vessels that constrict in cold water to conserve heat and dilate when they haul out to release heat. Their eyesight is good, especially underwater, but they do not perceive color. On land, they continually secrete mucous that coats and protects the eyes and drips down the sides of their faces, giving them a rather tearful, sorrowful look.