Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Atlantic Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus)

The Farne Islands in Northumberland are home to a population of around 6,000 of these 'hooked-nose sea pigs' (not my description, but from the translation of its rather unkind Latin scientific name). Protected in most of the UK since the Conservation of Seals Act of 1972, the communities are thriving. That's due in large part to the wealth of food available. Grey seals feed on a wide variety of fish and – like their near neighbours, the puffins – sand eels form an important part of their diet too. Indeed the seal's need for calories is such that its average daily intake is around 5kg (11 lb). The pups are born in the autumn and so some of the animals photographed here in April are probably yearlings or young adults. Adult males generally weigh in at 170-310kg, with adult females quite a bit smaller at 103-180kg. Pups are born measuring 90-105cm in length and weighing 10-18kg. The mortality rate for pups in their first year, though, can be as high as 30-55%. Females reach sexual maturity at 3-5 years, males at 4-6 years, although males may not attain territorial status until 8-10 years of age. Grey seals have been known to dive to depths of 300m and stay underwater for up to 20 minutes. Females normally live up to 35 years of age, males up to 25 years. The maximum recorded ages are 46 years for a female, 29 years for a male. (Source: Seal Conservation Society)

All shot on a Canon 1Ds MkII through a pretty dense sea fret. 1/1,600 sec, f/6.3, 200mm at ISO 320

1 comment:

  1. What would seem dull from a distance, you have certainly captured a lot of detail and colour Tim.