Grey Seal

Grey seals live across the North Atlantic. As well as on the coast of Canada’s maritime provinces, the grey seal is found from Iceland to the coast of northern Europe and in the Baltic Sea. A few colonies even exist as far south as northern Spain and Portugal.

Like most pinnipeds (the group of carnivores made up of seals, sea lions and the walrus), male grey seals are larger than the females. Despite the size difference, males reach their full adult size at 11 years old, which is four years earlier than the females.

Both sexes of grey seal are grey, but the males are darker than the females. Females have dark spots on their paler skin, while males have pale spots on their darker bodies.

Grey seals eat a range of fish and also a small amount of aquatic molluscs, such as squid, and crabs and other crustaceans. Grey seals hunt in open water but often return to the shore to rest. Breeding takes place on the coastline. Colonies form in early winter on beaches, rocky shores and in caves. Before breeding, the adults eat a great deal because they will fast while on shore. Females give birth on the beach to the pups conceived the year before, while the males fight for control of the mates. Mating takes place after the calves are weaned.

Distribution: Coastlines and islands of northern and western Europe and eastern Canada.

Habitat: Rocky coasts.

Food: Fish.

Size: 1.8 - 2.2 m (6 - 7.25 ft); 150 - 220 kg (330 - 485 lb).

Maturity: 3-6 years.

Breeding: Breeding season in winter. The males return to sea after mating. Calves are suckled by their mothers for 17 days. The mothers then leave calves on the beach. The calves follow after a few days.

Life span: 25 years.

Status: Common.