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Seals

Seals

There are two species of seals breeding around the shore of the UK; the grey seal and the common or harbour seal.

Our seal enclosure opened in Spring 2005 and is home to our resident common seals. To view our seals in action click the video below.

Harbour seals have a wide range and distribution, they are found in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Baltic and Northern Seas. They have fur but it is their thick layer of blubber which keeps them really warm in cold waters.  They are opportunistic feeders which mainly eat oily fish and occasionally squid and molluscs.  While they hunt and feed in the water they are often seen hauled out on rocky areas in large groups resting. They can either sleep in the water using a method called ‘bottling’ or they sleep while on land. When seals dive they store oxygen in their blood and muscle instead of their lungs, this allows them to dive for up to 30 minutes.

In the wild their main natural predators are Orcas, however humans are causing the most damage to their populations. As seals are very inquisitive animals they often investigate unknown items such as rubbish, fishing lines and boats. Unfortunately they often end up tangled or eat things which are not good for them. Orcas are incredibly skilled predators and seals are their favourite food, they swim up from below the seal and hit them out of the water with great force. To avoid becoming Orca food seals swim around on their backs with their eyes facing downwards to allow them to check for incoming Orcas, this also allows them to search for their next potential meal. Harbour Seals only have one pup a year, after 9 months gestation a seal is born, they shed their white fur in the womb and are born with their dark coat, allowing them to swim not long after birth. They are born between the moths of February and July depending on their latitude.

Our four seals are called Morag, Heather, Benji & Cody.