Identification at a glance
- Large seals with long heads, large sloped noses and parallel nostrils.
- Mainly grey in colour with a unique spot pattern.
- Can reach 2.6 metres and males can be as heavy as 300kg.
- Pups have a white fluffy coat and can’t learn to swim until they moult it.
Can be found across the North Atlantic Ocean and in the Baltic Sea.
Grey seals can often be found on beaches, rocky shores, islands, icebergs and swimming in the ocean.
Their diet consists of fish, squid, octopus, crustaceans and sometimes even seabirds. Each day they eat between 4-6% of their body weight. They can often be seen alone in the water or ‘hauled out’ in big groups on the beach. They are excellent hunters and tend to hunt in groups to catch prey.
Their Latin name “Halichoerus gryous” translates to “hook-nose sea pig”.
Many things threaten grey seal populations including entanglement by fish gear (by-catch), human harassment, pollution (chemical and plastic) and being hit by boats.
They are categorized as Least Concern and protected by the Conservation of Seal Act 1970 , the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 and the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.