Phoca vitulina L.   
Common Seal

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia – mammals

British distribution: Scotland, eastern England, breeding in scattered localities, especially the Wash and on the islands of the north and northwest.
World distribution: Coasts of the North Atlantic and North Pacific.

Common Seal in water
Common Seal at rest, showing face
One of two species of seal regularly found in British waters, the other being the much larger Grey Seal. The face of the Common Seal is more concave between nose and forehead and the nostrils form a 'V', touching below (more parallel and remaining separated in the Grey Seal).
The Common Seal feeds mainly on fish (e.g. flounders, herring, whiting), rarely birds (ducks, gulls). Sometimes salmon are taken from nets and it can become a pest at fisheries.

Common Seals on rocky shore
Common Seals on rocky shore

Photographs: Mousa, Shetland, 1995. My thanks to the seals.

© A.J. Silverside
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