Nature girl's picture

Grey Seal carcass

Observed: 29th January 2011 By: Nature girl
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Nature girl’s reputation in MammalsNature girl’s reputation in Mammals

Seal carcass on the beach. Interesting to see the parts that have been eaten (presumably by birds?) and the set of gnashers. Hope this isn't too gory to post!

Species interactions

No interactions present.


bobthebirder's picture


Can you be sure this is a grey rather than a common seal?

Bob Ford

Nature girl's picture

Grey vs. Common

That's a good point. I probably wrongly assumed that it was a Grey because of the large colonies of Greys on the N. Norfolk coast. Thinking about it now, I don't even know the difference between the two - I'll have to look it up. Thanks for your comment.

Gill Sinclair's picture

Common/harbour seal

The coat pattern looks more like common seal to me. If it washed up dead, it could have come from quite some distance away?

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

Fera Naturae's picture

Grey vs. Common

If that's your boot toe in the skull pic, then it's quite a small seal. The cheek teeth appear to be multi-cusped which is a Common seal character. (Grey seal cheek teeth have one huge point with very small side-cusps -see pic on p.529 of Handbook of British Mammals, 4th Edition.) The coat pattern with many small spots also suggests Common seal.
Unfortunately, this one hasn't got any nostrils, which is another point of difference. They are like \ / (not meeting at the bottom)in the Grey seal and Y in the Common seal. - But the two species are quite tricky to tell apart!

Nature girl's picture

Thanks for that info, it's

Thanks for that info, it's interesting to know the differences. I've added a revision to the ID.

the naturalist man's picture

I've just discovered this

I've just discovered this one. I hate being contrary but my vote would definitely go with grey seal. This is a pup, the teeth are just too clean and there is no wear (also the skull is small even for a common, though the body isn't), therefore, the usual identification features mentioned are not necessarily going to apply.

The clincher for me is the shape of the skull - it has a definite 'Roman' nose, there is not even a hint of a muzzle. If this were alive you would have no doubts it were a grey for this very reason.

The holes are interesting as well, note how circular they are, this indicates, as you say, that the main scavengers have been gulls; a mammal would just rip the carcass to shreds. Nice set of photos and not too gory!

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'

Nature girl's picture

Thanks Graham

I was still uncertain as to which species this was so it's nice to know what it is for sure!