Biodiversity Fact File: Seals
Monday 6th March 2017
Nelson the seal pup © Lara Howe
Our Island has a brilliant array of biodiversity and the Manx Wildlife Trust works hard to protect it for future generations to enjoy.
Our biodiversity fact files aim to bring often lesser-known but threatened species to our attention and explain the incredible lives that they lead.
Seals are probably a better known species to a lot of people, indeed if you have ever visited the Sound you can’t fail to hear their mournful cries or be fascinated as they lounge about on the rocks of Kitterland in the middle of the channel.Two species of seals can be found swimming, sleeping and feasting around our Island: the Atlantic Grey seal (Halichoerous grypus) and the Common seal (Phoca vitulina). Despite it's name, the Common seal is not very common to our Island at all! (There are on average about 10 grey seals to every common seal).
So how do you tell the difference between them? Well the Common seal has a much smaller snub like nose contrasting to the more roman profile of a grey seals nose, also the common seals nostrils are in a V-shape alignment rather than the parallel alignment as seen on grey seals. Common seals are smaller than the Grey seals and they are also a bit more aggressive and so tend to often be slightly isolated from other seals when hauled out. They are some of our longest lived marine species with females living up to 30 years. Please remember that these animals are protected and disturbing them is an offence under the 1990 Wildlife Act.
Manx Wildlife Trust has been running seal pup surveys for several years on the Calf of Man, photographing and recording the adults and seal pups, keeping an eye on their progress and numbers. This research helps us to understand the lifestyle of the seals and their needs and keep an eye on their population. We are finding the same females returning to the same spots to haul out and have their pups, continued monitoring will help us with questions such as will the pups return to the same spot as adult parents.
To learn more about seals, visit our Seal Appeal Road Show as it travels around the Island.