A common seal (c) Christine Hall

Common seal

Common seals, as the name suggests, are very common, especially in the waters of the north Atlantic and north Pacific Oceans. They are the most widespread of the pinniped family, with the UK boasting five percent of the world's population. Mostly solitary animals, small groups do form when they haul-out onto rocky shores and beaches to bask, mate and moult. At sea common seals have much to fear from killer whales and great white sharks. Common seals don't chew their food, it is just torn into chunks or even swallowed whole.

Scientific name: Phoca vitulina

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Harbor seal,
  • Harbour seal

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The Common seal can be found in a number of locations including: Arctic, Asia, China, Europe, North America, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Common seal distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Stable

Year assessed: 2008

Classified by: IUCN 3.1