Harbour Seals (Phoca vitulina) are true
seals of the Northern Hemisphere. Having the widest range of all pinnipeds, Common Seals are found in coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as well as those of the Baltic and North
With an estimated 400,000-500,00 individuals, the total
population of Common Seals is not threatened as a whole. Local populations have been reduced or eliminated through outbreaks disease and conflict with humans, both unintentionally and intentionally. While it is legal to kill seals which are perceived to threaten fisheries in the United Kingdom, Norway and Canada, commercial hunting is illegal; the seals are also taken in subsistence hunting and accidentally as bycatch in fishing nets.
With each individual possessing a unique pattern of fine, dark spots, Common Seals vary in colour from brownish black to tan or grey; underparts are generally lighter. The body and flippers are short, with a proportionately large, rounded head. The nostrils appear distinctively V-shaped; as with other true seals, the ears are not visible.Including the head and flippers, Common Seals may reach an
adult length of c. 185 centimetres and a weight of 130 kilograms. Females are smaller than males.
Habitat and diet
Characterized as being
habitual in their choice of resting sites, Common Seals may spend several days
at sea and travel up to 50 kilometres in search of feeding grounds. Resting
sites may be both rugged, rocky coast such as that of the Hebrides, or sandy
intertidal zones; some seals may also enter esturies. The seals frequently
choose to congregate in harbours, lending the animals their other common
The feeing habits of Common Seals has not been studied
closely; they are known to prey primarily upon fish such as herring, whiting
and flatfish, and occasionally upon shrimp and squd. Common Seals are thought
able to remain submerged for up to 10 minutes, reaching depths of 50 metres or
The winter Olympics are a time when countries come together to reach a goal. The goal is a gold medal! What does it take to make it to the Olympics? How does someone who has this goal work with other people to make it to the Olympics.
Let's learn about the different events in the Olympics. Click here to find out where the Olympics are being held this year, 2014.
Can you think of one event that I didn't include in the list above? This event requires people to work together to earn a gold medal.
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