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Common Seal Facts | Scotland Wildlife Guide

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Common seals, also known as harbor seals, are approximately 5 to 6 1/2 feet long. Bulls can reach 550 pounds, while cows are significantly smaller, weighing only about half as much. Their coloring is mottled gray or brown, and their coats can appear silvery when dry. They have rounded heads with long white whiskers, "V" shaped nostrils and large brown eyes.

HABITAT

Common seals are the most widely distributed species of pinniped, found across the Northern Hemisphere in temperate and Arctic waters. Scotland is home to about 90% of the 33,000 common seals inhabiting marine coastlines of the United Kingdom. These seals often congregate in estuaries, harbors and bays.

FEEDING HABITS

These blubbery animals have a large range when hunting, diving for deep-dwelling sand lances and swimming miles upriver into freshwater habitats for shad and salmon. They also have a varied diet, preying on species such as sea bass, mackerel, cod, anchovy, herring, flatfish and, sometimes, shrimp and squid.

PUPS

Common seals haul out onto rocky shores or intertidal sandbanks to rest and give birth to pups. Pups are born each year in June and July and can swim and dive after only a few hours!
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