British wildlife recordings
Halichoerus grypus : Grey Seal - Phocidae
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Pembrokeshire Coast: OS Grid Reference(401500,100500)
Grey Seal, Halichoerus grypus
This is the call of the grey seal, recorded at sea off 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.
User notes for this item
This is a group of seals on a pebble beach. Seals are not particularly sociable animals, but are often forced to haul-out together on small beaches to sleep (they can only cat-nap in the water and have to come onto land to sleep properly). The calls are consistent with animals trying to find a space on the beach, and disturbing others as they do so. The calls are usually from the disturbed animals, telling the newcomer to go away. There are some snorts as an animals blows its nose. The sounds of pebbles clattering as animals move across the beach. Submitted on behalf of Annie Haycock.
Posted by Cheryl Tipp, Wildlife Curator, British Library on 09/04/2009 13:44:00