Common seals, also known as harbour seals, are seen fairly often within Poole Harbour and a survey by Dorset Wildlife Trust recorded up to five present during this year. One individual, originally tagged in France, has been resident since 2008.
Seals seen at sea off the Purbeck Coast are more likely to be the larger Atlantic grey seal. Sightings increase in the autumn as pups move away from their breeding sites in Devon and Cornwall.
Both species can be very friendly and approachable and the local press featured several stories this summer about seals in the harbour nosing around small fishing boats and even swimming alongside children in a little rubber dinghy.
In the winter of 2014/15, a cheeky female grey seal, which was christened Smiley, seemed to enjoy swimming around rowers and kayakers off Studland Beach, even attempting to clamber aboard.
DWT is monitoring them through the Dorset Seal Project. Please report sightings and photos if possible to ‘Kimmeridge@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk’.