British wildlife recordings

Halichoerus grypus : Grey Seal - Phocidae

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  • Shelf mark

    W1CDR0001391 BD1

  • Subjects


  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Pembrokeshire Coast: OS Grid Reference(401500,100500)

  • Recordist

    Shove, Lawrence

  • Species

    Grey Seal, Halichoerus grypus

  • Description

    This is the call of the grey seal, recorded on a beach on the Pembrokeshire coast. The British Isles boasts half the world's population of the Grey Seal, a noisy and gregarious marine mammal. It can be found basking in fine weather along rocky coasts throughout the UK, although the largest concentrations are located around the western Scottish islands. Two thirds of this animal's time is spent out at sea, searching for fish such as cod, whiting, sand eels and occasionally salmon. Averaging over two metres in length, the mature bull's fur is dark grey-brown with a blotching pattern. The female is slightly smaller and lighter in colour and has a shorter muzzle than the male. Bulls come ashore at the onset of the breeding season in the early autumn. Females arrive a little later, by which time the males have fought to establish suitable territories. Mating does not commence for a while, however, because the females give birth to pups conceived in the previous year. Each cow produces one, white-coated pup, which feeds on its mother's rich, fatty milk for two to three weeks. Young seals are ready to brave the cold winter waters at around three months old. A party of grey seals can be recognised by the utterance of barking, moaning, hissing and snarling noises. The grey seal was one of Britain's first mammals to be legally protected. It is currently expanding in numbers, despite the recent threat of disease. The UK population is estimated to be 80,000 individuals.

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User notes for this item

This is a baby seal, a pup less than three weeks old. It seems to be trying to attract attention, either from its mother who is probably in the water nearby, or just communicating with any other seal pup on the same beach. They can sound remarkably like human babies at times. Submitted on behalf of Annie Haycock.

Posted by Cheryl Tipp, Wildlife Curator, British Library on 09/04/2009 13:44:00