British wildlife recordings

Halichoerus grypus : Grey Seal - Phocidae

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  • Shelf mark

    W1CDR0001378 BD5

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  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    OS Grid Reference(402500,88500)

  • Recordist

    Shove, Lawrence

  • Species

    Grey Seal, Halichoerus grypus

  • Description

    This is a recording of the call of the grey seal. The plaintive drawn-out calls made by seals have led to many legends and stories surrounding them. There are in fact two species of seal in Britain; the common seal with a rounded face, and the grey seal with an elongated snout similar to a Labrador dog. Seals are commonly seen at traditional 'haul-outs' between the high and low tide marks. Their ungainly movement on land is completely transformed when they enter the water, where their perfectly streamlined bodies enable agile movement necessary to feed among the kelp on fish and other seafood. The grey seal is the more vocal of the two species, and during the autumn the female cows will visit remote, exposed rocky coasts and sea caves where they gather to give bird to their pups. The pups are born pure white and produce a crying sound very similar to a human baby. The breeding colonies are noisy affairs, with females protective of their pups howling at each other, and the male bull seals producing a low-frequency sound typically described as a steam train. Although once hunted extensively, seals are now afforded legal protection in British waters.

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User notes for this item

This seal species is the Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus); sounds like recorded on shingle beach

Posted by Richard Ranft, Head of Sound Archive, British Library on 06/04/2009 16:24:00