Seals, in contrast to sea lions, have short snouts and v-shaped nostrils. They have very short front flippers with claws at the end, while their rear flippers are an extension of their spine. So, unlike sea lions, seals cannot support themselves on their flippers and move around on their stomach. Another difference between sea lions and seals is their ears: sea lions (like humans) have both an inner and outer ear, while seals, like birds, only have an inner ear, which cannot be seen by the naked eye. Harbour seals are covered in a short grey coat with black markings.
Harbour seals are found on the north-western shores of Europe, from France to the Netherlands.
In France, they can be seen on the coast of the English Channel, where colonies can be found on four sites: Dunkirk, the Baie de Somme, the Baie de Veys, and the Baie du Mont St-Michel.
Harbour seals never stray far from the shore. These marine mammals live in groups of around 10 individuals. At low tide they rest on sandbanks and go hunting during high water.
Harbour seals often mate in the water. Females give birth to a pup known as a whitecoat 11 months later. It can swim just a few hours after it is born.
Estuaries, beaches and sandbanks.
Crustaceans, molluscs and fish.
The largest species in the seal family is the elephant seal. It can weigh up to 3 tonnes, remain under water for more than 2 hours, and descend to a depth of 500 m.