The main focus of the Dorset Mammals Group is the county’s terrestrial mammals but for completeness two species of seal, grey and common, occur in Dorset and a vagrant harp seal was unexpectedly recorded on the Isle of Portland on 27 September 2003.
Common Seal Phoca vitulina
The most likely species of seal to be encountered in Dorset being regularly encountered in Poole harbour and living up to the species’ alternative name of harbour seal. Most sightings are of single animals seen from boats but regular land-based sightings from the harbour mouth and Swineham Point to the east of Wareham.
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus
Less frequently encountered than common seals and most likely to be encountered along the coast from Durlston Head near Swanage to Portland Bill.
Harp Seal Phoca groenlandica
One Dorset record, unexpectedly found on the Isle of Portland on 27 September 2003.