trudy-russell's picture

Grey Seals

Observed: 9th July 2009 By: trudy-russelltrudy-russell’s reputation in Mammalstrudy-russell’s reputation in Mammals

I spotted this group of grey seals basking in the middle of the shipping channel in falmouth whilst out sailing with some of my students! for further info on cornish seals check out the cornish seal group website

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the naturalist man's picture

Grey seals

These are female grey seals for the reasons given. Most people I know prefer the common seal with its puppy dog look. However, my vote would go for grey seals, though I am biased having spent two seasons studying their breeding and pupping behaviour.

There are some excellent photos of grey and harbour seals at this link. It is Canadian so there are also some harp seals.

Graham Banwell

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

suesseals's picture

Identification of your seals

Hi Trudy, Great photo!
Yes I'd obviously agree that this is a group of Grey Seals! Females on the right definitely. Not sure about the one on the left - might be a boy!

If you want to send me a high res version of the photo I will try to ID the seals for you! Also the date and total number of seals seen and I will add this sighting to our database. I will do this for any seal sightings in Devon and Cornwall, including the Isles of Scilly that anyone wants to send me.

Just thought I'd mention that you got the nostril stuff the wrong way round....Commons have v shaped nostrils and grey are more parallet, although juvenile greys may look v shaped, so you need to go on overall appearance and other factors. The pelage pattern is particularly useful - Commons are mottled and Greys more plain or spotty. Greys have proportionally bigger heads and Commons have more of a forehead.

Our website has masses of information too about seals and has a new weekly new story!

Cornwall Seal Group

the naturalist man's picture

Grey seals

Hello Sue, welcome to iSpot. It's good to have another seal enthusiast!

On second viewing, you could be right about the left hand one it does appear to have a very convex muzzle. However, like you I'd prefer to see a high-res picture or another one because the overall 'jizz' looks more female; head size, and fat - rather than heavy muscled - body.

Many years ago I helped trial the use of body patterns in grey seals for identification. When studying them on Skomer we were using whole body patterns but then SMRU suggested a new method they were trialing using the patterning around the 'ear' as it is most often seen, even when the animal is in the water, and was unique to each animal. Is this what you now use or do you use whole body patterns, or some other area?

Most of my seals on Skomer were easy to tell apart as almost all of them had scars, some deep, appartently from confrontations with boat propellers.

Graham Banwell

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

Gill Sinclair's picture

Sable Island seals - debris

Thanks Graham for the Sable Island pictures at - it looks like seal-lovers heaven there, but the number of cases of seals caught up in anthropogenic debris was a bit sobering. Thank goodness there are researchers there who can disentangle them - I think it's OK for people to 'interfere' in whether an animal survives or not when it's humans that have caused the problem in the first place.

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

worn's picture

The Grey Seal (Halichoerus

The Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus, meaning "hooked-nosed sea pig") 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 spelled Gray Seal in the US, it is also known as Atlantic Grey Seal and the Horsehead Seal.It is a medium sized seal, with the bulls reaching 2.5–3.3 m long and weighing up to 300 kg; the cows are much smaller, typically 1.6–2.0 m long and 100–150 kg weight oracle 1z0 147. It is distinguished from Common Seal by its straight head profile with nostrils that are well apart, and fewer spots on its body. Bull Grays have larger noses and a more convex profile than Common Seal bulls. Males are often darker than females, with lighter patches and often scarring around the neck. Females are silver grey to brown with dark patches a+ exams.