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UK Nature > Mammals > Grey Seal




Scientific Name: Halichoerus grypus
Common Name: Grey Seal

Halichoerus grypus, otherwise known as the Grey seal, has grey and brown fur, sometimes with a pattern of blotches; no ears visible; long muzzle; nostrils parallel; larger and darker than common seal, with flat or convex profile to its head (the common seal has a concave profile).

Grey seals around Great Britain are found mainly along exposed rocky northern and western coasts. They also occur in the south west and off the east coast, around the Isle of May and the Farne Islands off Northumberland. Between the tides they haul themselves out on to rocks, usually on uninhabited offshore islands; though some haul-outs are on secluded mainland beaches. Grey seals are gregarious at these haul-outs, sometimes forming large groups of several hundred animals, especially when they are moulting their fur in the spring. They are not, however, very sociable and keep a distance between one another.

About two-thirds of greys seals' time is spent at sea where they hunt and feed. In the autumn grey seals congregate at traditional sites on land to breed. The timing of births varies around the coast, beginning in September in West Wales, in October in western Scotland, and as late as November in the Farne Islands. Sand eels and cod are their most important foods, but grey seals are opportunistic feeders and probably take whatever fish are most abundant.











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