Grey Seal – Halichoerus grypus
Several grey seal culls have been undertaken, the most recent in Scotland in 1977. This resulted in a public outcry and the cull was abandoned in 1978 to await the results of more research into seals and fisheries. Recent research indicates that grey seals eat large quantities of sand eels, which are caught for use in fish meal but not for human consumption. Salmon does not appear to be an important part of the seal’s diet, although other commercially important fish like cod are taken. The relationship between numbers of seals and the incidence of fish parasite infestations is a complex issue. Problems of soil erosion on the Farne Islands have been relieved simply by discouraging seals from breeding on the most vulnerable islands.
Colour can vary drastically. Nostrils set apart and almost parallel in appearance. Large male adult grey seals can be up to 2.7m in length.
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Harbour/common seal (Phoca vitulina)
Short, rounded muzzle, compared to long straight muzzle of grey seal. Harbour seal often seen in “tail-up” pose. Grey seal is much larger than common.