Grey Seal

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(Redirected from Halichoerus)
Grey Seal
Scientific classification
Species:H. grypus
Binomial name
Halichoerus grypus
(Fabricius,, 1791)

The Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus) is found on both shores of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is a large seal of the family Phocidae or "true seals". It is the only species classified in the genus Halichoerus. Its name is alternatively spelled Gray seal and is also known as Atlantic Grey Seal.

Missing image
Pup on the Faroe Islands, November 2004

In Britain and Ireland, the Grey Seal breeds in several colonies on and around the coasts; notably large colonies are at the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast (about 6,000 animals), and North Rona off the north coast of Scotland and Lambay Island off the coast of Dublin. It is the largest native mammal in the British Isles, with the bulls reaching 2.5-3.3m long and weighing up to 300kg; the cows are much smaller, typically 1.6-2m long and 100-150kg weight. It is the typical seal of the northern and western coasts, the Common Seal being more often seen off southeastern coasts.

In the Western North Atlantic, grey seals are typically found in large numbers all along the coast of North America up to about the coastal waters of New Jersey in the United States. In Canada, they are typically seen in areas like the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland and the Maritimes, and Quebec. In the United States one finds them year round off the New England coasts (in particular Maine) and slightly less frequently in the Middle Atlantic States, though their natural range extends to Virginia. During the winter months they can be seen hauled out on the rocks, islands, and shoals not far from shore, like great grey bananas in the sun, and occassionally coming ashore to rest. In the spring the recently weaned pups and yearlings occasionally strand on beaches after becoming lost.

Missing image
Grey Seal veiwing surroundings

The pups are born in autumn (September to November) in the eastern Atlantic and in winter (January to February) in the west, with a dense, soft silky white fur; at first they are small and shrivelled-looking, but they rapidly fatten up to look like over-filled barrels, from the extremely fat-rich milk they receive from their mothers. Within a month or so, they shed the pup fur and grow the dense waterproof adult fur, and soon leave for the sea to learn to fish for themselves. In recent years, the number of grey seals has been on the rise in the west, and in Canada their have been calls for culling the number of seals, however this does not appear to be coming to fruition any time soon.da:Gråsæl de:Kegelrobbe fr:Phoque gris nl:Grijze zeehond sv:Gråsäl


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