Monday, 16 May 2016

Seals at Holkham

There are just two resident seal species in the UK, the common and the grey. The common seal (also known as harbour seals due to their preference to stay near land) is actually less common than its bigger cousin the grey seal.

Common seals are smaller with snub-noses and there is very little difference between males and females, although males may be slightly larger. By contrast, the male grey seal is considerably larger than the female. Greys have a distinctive long ‘Roman noses’. In fact, its scientific name (Halichoerus grypus) means ‘hook-nosed sea-pig’!

Seals return to land to give birth to their pups. Between September and November, grey seals will haul themselves out of the sea to have their white-coated pups. They will then spend around three to four weeks ashore.
Common seals come ashore to give birth from May through to July. Their pups are more readily adapted to a marine life. They are born with well developed hind flippers, meaning that they have the ability to swim within just a few hours of birth. The mother and pup then spend most of their time together in the sea.

The seals will often haul themselves out at low tides to rest and wait for the tide to come back in. They can often be seen relaxing in front of the beach huts at Wells. While these fun animals look cute and friendly they are wild and can give a very nasty bite if threatened. Seals are a protected species and disturbance is an offence. We would ask people to keep a respectful distance, to keep their dogs on a lead and not to enter the seal enclosures.