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The Common Seal (Phoca vitulina), also known as the Harbor Seal or alternatively spelled Harbour Seal, is a true seal found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines of the Northern hemisphere. They are found in coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as well as those of the Baltic and North Seas, making them the most wide-ranging of the pinnipeds (walruses, eared seals, and true seals).
Common seals are brown, tan, or gray, with distinctive V-shaped nostrils. An adult can attain a length of 1.85 meters (6.1 ft) and a mass of 132 kilograms (290 lb). Females outlive males (30–35 years versus 20–25 years). Common seals stick to familiar resting spots, generally rocky areas where land predators can't reach them, near a steady supply of fish to eat. Males fight over mates underwater. Females mate with the strongest males, then bear single pups, which they care for alone. Pups are able to swim and dive within hours of birth, and they grow quickly on their mothers' milk. A fatty tissue called blubber keeps them warm.
Their global population is 400,000 to 500,000, and subspecies in certain habitats are threatened. Seal hunting, once a common practice, is now mostly illegal.
The seals frequently choose to congregate in harbours, lending the animals their other common name. The feeding habits have been studied closely in many parts of their range; they are known to prey primarily upon fish such as menhaden, anchovy, sea bass, herring, mackerel, cod, whiting and flatfish, and occasionally upon shrimp, crabs, mollusks and squid.