Harp seals will not be as plentiful off the coast of Prince Edward Island, say officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

DFO research scientist Mark Hammill said the small amount of ice is the reason the harp seals, now in the pupping season, may have relocated to the northeast coast of Newfoundland.  

"So we probably expect fewer pups would be born in the Gulf, that is there are fewer harp seal pups that would be born in the Gulf. Of those that are born, probably mortality would be high because the ice is very poor. It's very unstable. It's not very thick," said Hammill.

"So if there is any wind activity, the animals will be thrown into the water, the pads will break up and so there wouldn't be very much for them to haul out on."

Hammill said this year's ice conditions are similar to 2010.

The research scientist said any seals that are seen along the shore this year will likely be grey seals. Those seals pup in January and February.

Hammill adds anyone who does encounter a seal should leave it alone. Under the Marine Mammals Regulations it is illegal to disturb seals.