Dorset Seal Sightings

Common seal - Julie Rowland (2) main

(Above) Common Seal © Julie Rowland (below) Grey Seal © Sarah Hodgson,
Harbour Seal © Roy Udall, 'Fiver' © Sarah Hodgson and 'Smiley' © Michele Taylor

Seals are charismatic, intelligent marine mammals that are frequently encountered along the Dorset coast. 

The UK is home to the grey seal and the common or harbour seal, both of which can be spotted in Dorset. 

Despite being the UK’s largest carnivorous mammal, seals still face a number of threats from entanglement to disease and boat strikes. 

Find out more about grey seals and harbour seals.

Download our Seal ID PDF here.

Dorset Seal Sightings

In 2014, we started to record sightings of the seals that frequent the Dorset coastline to get a better understanding of how many are seen and where they are spotted.  In total, more than 60 separate seal sightings were recorded during the year from West Bexington to Poole Harbour.

We also started the first Dorset seal photo identification catalogue.  Every animal has a unique set of patterns in its fur that it will retain for life.  By photographing and cataloguing these, individuals can be identified.  This will help us to learn if they are returning to the same spot and whether we have any resident seals.  We can also share the photo id catalogue with other seal recorders in Cornwall and France to help us learn more about their movements.

2. Grey seal - Credit Sarah Hodgsonadd1

3. Harbour seal - Credit Roy Udalladd

How can you help? 

Please report sightings and photos of Dorset seals to:

Remember, seals are wild animals.  Keep your distance or remain out of sight to prevent distress. Read our code of conduct here

For any welfare concerns please check with British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

Download our Seal sightings form here.

Meet some of our Dorset seals...


Fiver is a female grey seal named because of the £5 marking on the left side of her neck. She also has a distinctive scar on her nose.  Fiver was recorded at Portland Bill in July, August, September and October of 2014, always returning to the same general area.

4. Fiver - Credit Sarah Hodgsonadd


Smiley is a cheeky juvenile female grey seal first spotted by rowers in Poole Harbour playing around their boat.  Subsequently she has been seen by kayakers around Poole and Studland throughout December and again in early 2015 and finds it fun to try and clamber aboard!

 5. Smiley - Credit Michele Tayloradd


“Skipjack” was just a small pup when he was rescued from Chesil Beach at Abbotsbury.  Weighing a mere 14kgs, he more than tripled in size during his recuperation at the West Hatch RSPCA rescue centre. See below for a short video of Skipjack just before his release.


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