After 2 years without ice, the harp seals were back to give birth in the Gulf of St Lawrence in Eastern Canada in March 2012. Eric Baccega was able to photograph the ^yellowcoats^ (upto 3 days old) and the ^whitecoats^ (4 - 14 days old) being suckled by their mothers. After 14 days, the seal pups lose their white coats and, having reached a weight of 40-45kg due to the richness of their mother's milk, they are abandoned by their mothers to survive alone in the cold waters of the Gulf of St Lawrence.
In the previous 2 years, no harp seal pups survived in this area, as the ice was too thin to allow the female harp seals to give birth on it. If rising temperatures continue to melt the spring pack ice in this area, the harp seals will have no alternative but to move to more northerly areas to breed. In spite of the thinning pack ice, the harp seal population remains at a healthy level of more than 8 million, and a cull of more than 300,000 seal pups is allowed each year by the Canadian government.
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