Phoca vitulina L. |
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.
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.
Photographs: Mousa, Shetland, 1995. My thanks to the seals.