Tuesday, 23 March 2010

How to... Watch Seals

Top UK Seal Watching Spots

Seals are some of the UK’s most charismatic mammals, populating much of our coastline. A joy to watch, they will often curiously bob up in the water around a boat of delighted seal-watchers.

Britain is home to two species of seal: Grey and Common.


The main difference can be seen in their facial shapes, as Common Seals have short muzzles and V-shaped nostrils while Greys have a longer muzzle and parallel nostrils.

Blakeney, Norfolk

From Blakeney Quay numerous boats set out to National Trust site at Blakeney Point (my personal tour of choice is run by Bean's Boats.) Passengers are ferried past sandbanks covered in basking seals throughout the peak seal-watching season (April-October). Both Common and Grey seals make up a colony of around 500 individuals, and boat companies guarantee passengers will see seals on every journey.
The two species raise young at different points in the year, so it is likely that visitors will see pups. Curious seals often swim around the boats, popping their faces out of the water to have a look.
More about seal watching in Blakeney http://www.beansboattrips.co.uk/
Orkney Islands

Orkney has resident populations of both indigenous seal species, the tourist board claims that they can be seen on almost any piece of shoreline. Some seals will often follow you along as you walk, particularly if you whistle.
The waters around the Orkneys are estimated to be home to 25,000 Grey seals, and 7,000 Common seals. Another advantage of keeping an eye on the Orkney coast is that there have previously been sightings of Common dolphins, porpoises, Minke whales, Humpback whales and Orcas.
More about the Orkney Islands 

Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire

West Wales is home to approximately 5,000 Grey seals. At Skomer Island they can be seen year round along with puffins, Manx shearwaters and other coastal birds.
The advantage of Skomer as a seal-watching spot is that the spread of pupping dates here is wider than in any other breeding colony, although scientists are unsure why. Pups can be seen here from September to December.
More about the wildlife of Skomer Island http://www.welshwildlife.org/skomerIntro_en.link

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