The Atlantic Grey Seal
When you book a boat trip with St Ives Boats (Dolly P) you will have the opportunity to see one of Britains most playful Aquatic Mammals, The Grey Seal.
- These seals are the biggest land breeding mammal in the United Kingdom.
- Around half the global population of Grey Seals are found around the British coasts.
- Grey seal pups weigh only around 14 kg at birth. However, their mother’s high-fat milk allows them to quickly bulk up and develop the blubber which is essential for survival in the cold seawater.
- Mother and pup grey seals have a strong bond from birth. Mothers recognise their pup by their call and scent. For the first few weeks of the pup’s life, the mother will feed them around 6 times a day, for up to 10 minutes at a time.
- Mother seals remain close to their infant during the first weeks of their life. They rarely feed for themselves during this period and lose up to a quarter of their own weight before the pup is ready to be weaned.
- Grey seals’ hands and feet are formed into webbed flippers. They use their strong rear flippers to propel themselves through the water while using their tail to steer. They also have powerful shoulders which enable them to haul themselves onto steep and slippery rocks.
- The seals can dive to depths of around 70 metres when searching for food.
- Grey seals are able to remain underwater for up to 16 minutes, although they normally tend to resurface after periods of around 5-10 minutes. As a mammal species, the grey seal is unable to breathe underwater, however, it is able to stay underwater for so long by slowing its heart rate to conserve oxygen. Grey seals also have high levels of haemoglobin (red blood pigment which carries oxygen around the body).
- Grey seals hunt alone out at sea. Their large eyes allow them to see well in dark murky waters; however, their highly sensitive ears are most important for locating prey. Even blind seals can easily catch prey.
- The seals breed from September to December around the British coasts. Females give birth to a single pup on a shore alongside hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of other seals.
- Their scientific name (Halichoerus grypus) derives from the Greek for ‘hook-nosed sea pig’. Seems a strange title, we think they are rather lovely.
Don’t Miss Your Chance To See The Grey Seals
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