@pagophilus.orgWhat is a Pagophilic Seal? 
Pagophilic is a technical term meaning ice-loving.  Pagophilic seals are those which use ice for some period in their life-cycle.  Pagophilus is the genus to which the harp seal belongs.  Its scientific name, Pagophilus groenlandicus, means "the ice-lover from Greenland".

Some of the seal species described in these pages only use ice some of the time, or in some populations.  Some use free-floating pack ice and others use fast ice (ice that is attached to the coast).  The table below groups the species as northern, southern, preference for fast or pack ice, and - for species that may use either under different circumstances - primary preference for ice or land.

Pagophilic seals

Use of ice

Northern hemisphere Southern hemisphere
Pack ice Fast ice Pack ice Fast ice
 Primary Walrus Ringed seal Ross seal Weddell seal
Harp seal Baikal seal Crabeater seal .
Hooded seal Leopard seal .
Bearded seal . . .
Ribbon seal . . .
Larga seal . . .
Caspian seal
 Secondary Grey seal Grey seal


S. elephant seal
Harbour seal . . .
Steller sea lion . . .



Rice, D.W. 1998. Marine mammals of the world: systematics and distribution.  The Society for Marine Mammalogy Special Publication Number 4. 231 pp.

Riedman, M.  1990.  The Pinnipeds: Seals, seal lions, and walruses. University of California Press. Berkley. 439 pp.