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Tuesday, 12 January 2016
The 2015 Seal Summary
So the figures are in, it’s been another bumper year for the Grey Seals Halichoerus grypus on the Farne Islands!
The Farne Islands are home to individuals year round and are an ideal breeding ground for the seals, for a number of reasons. The islands have a plentiful supply of sand eels Ammodytes, which can make up around 70% of the seals diet, although they do take a variety of fish if the opportunity arises. Secondly, the islands provide shelter in the form of haul out areas and suitable breeding sites. Disturbance from human activity is also at a minimum and so with all of these factors combined it is easy to see why the population continues to increase. This is great news for the grey seals as the UK holds 38% of the world’s population.
Grey Seals will pup in the autumn months, with
varying start dates at different colonies.
Here on the Farnes we will usually see the first pup being born in
September, with the main bulk being born from October to late December. This year was no different with two pups
discovered on the South Wamses on the 18th September. Unfortunately, as with many pups born early
in the season, they didn’t survive the first 24 hours. We can only assume that they were washed away
by the spring tides that we were experiencing at the time.
The season kicked off proper on the 14th October with six pups born on the North Wamses and two on Brownsman. From then on numbers rose steadily with a peak in mid-November when 187 new pups were found. Traditionally the Outer Group of islands holds the majority of ‘rookeries’ and the seals there will typically pup much earlier than those on the Inner Group. It really was a case of the rangers moving out and the seals moving in, as just a week after we moved off Inner Farne 21 new pups were found!