Common, or Harbour Seal

Also known as the Harbour Seal, this is the smaller of the two species of seal commonly found in UK waters and it can reach lengths of 1.7-1.9 metres with little variation between sexes. They have a short wide muzzle, big eyes and v-shaped nostrils, they are almost dog-like in appearance. The coat colour can vary between pale grey, tan, brown and dark grey, however around the UK it tends to be a darker coat with paler patches.

Around the Hebrides Common Seals tend to inhabit areas closer to shore and can even be found in relatively busy areas and can often be seen from land. However during the pupping time the numbers inshore tend to decrease and the majority of pregnant females will move to quieter areas for a month or so.

The young are born fairly well developed around June and July and are able to swim and dive within hours of bring born. They will then suckle for about 3 weeks and in this time they can double their birth weight by feeding on their mothers fat rich milk.

The diet of Common Seals is made up of a range of fish species, including Sandeels, Cod and Herring along with Squid and Octopus. They spend about 85% of their day diving for food and can consume up to 5kg of food per day.

There are estimated to be about 400,000-500,000 Common Seals across the world, primarily around coastal areas of the North Atlantic and North Pacific. The UK population is estimated to be around 50,000 to 60,000 of which about 85% are found around Scotland. They can be seen hauled out on sandflats and estuaries, however around the Hebrides they will use rocky shores.