About seals

Just like us

Seals evolved 15 million years ago compared to man who only evolved 5 million years ago! Like humans, seals are mammals and share many of the same characteristics. They breath air, are warm-blooded, give birth in the same way and feed their young on milk.

Spot the difference
There are 33 different species of seals worldwide and these can be split into three groups;

True Seals

Walrus

Eared Seals 

True Seal

True Seal

Walrus

Walrus

Eared Seal

Eared Seal

True Seals
True Seals have no visible external ears, just ear slits. They are also unable to rotate their hind flippers forward and therefore cannot use them on land.

Walrus
Walrus have no visible external ears, just ear slits like True Seals. Like the Eared Seals, they are agile on land and they are easy to recognise due to their two tusks.

Eared Seals
Eared Seals have a visible ear flap that has a middle ear similar to that of terrestrial mammals, and an air-filled auditory canal. They have large hind flippers that can be rotated under their body and used to support it so they can move relatively easily on land. Eared Seals can even run on land, which is something that earless seals cannot do. In the water, their hind flippers are used primarily for steering.

 

Grey seals - Breeding and Babies

Sociable Seals?
Even though seals live in large groups there is not a lot of social communication between them. It is only at certain times that they are vocal, and this is usually during the breeding season. To communicate with one another seals will wail, hiss, snort and growl or snap their jaws, and raise their flippers at one another in a warning gesture.

Motherly Love
In the pupping season, mother seals spend 10 minutes every 4 hours feeding their pups with no time to really feed themselves. During this period the mother seal may lose up to 70kg (154lb) in weight. For every 2 pounds she loses her pup gains one pound! In the 4 weeks it suckles, her pup will drink 60 litres of milk, which will be retained by the pup as blubber, a good store to keep it going until it learns to fend for itself.

Pregnancy and Pups
The gestation period of Grey Seals is 11.5 months, this is because they have ‘deployed implantation’.
The fertilised egg does not become attached to the uterus wall and begin to grow for the first 2-3 months while the female seal gets herself in peak condition. She will give birth to a single seal pup who will require her constant attention, being fed every 3-4 hours for up to 4 weeks. At the end of this period the pup is ready to feed for itself, and will now be a big barrel of fat weighing up to 50kg!