When seen in profile “hauled out” on land and when seen face on in the water, their closed nostrils nearly touch in a V-shape that cannot be confused with the grey seal whose closed nostrils have almost parallel slits, and whose muzzle is deeper and longer.
When hauled out of the water and seen at a distance common seals are distinct. They prefer to keep their distance from other seals. Often rest on their side with their back flippers off the ground in a “banana-shaped” outline. In general, close up they have smaller spots then grey seals, but this can be difficult to see during the moult (June –September).