January 2015 - Horsey Seals
Common Seals, Horsey September 2014, photo taken by Jenny Press
Seals are on the beach at Horsey most of the year, but winter is a time when you can see seal pups.
There are two species of seal - the Common or Harbour Seal and the Grey Seal. They may haul up onto the beach together and can be difficult to tell apart; the Grey Seal is the larger of the 2 species, and the Common Seal has a rounder head and V shaped nostrils, meeting at the bottom; the Grey Seal has parallel nostrils. The Common Seals also have the characteristic poise of head up and tail up.
Other differences between the two species are; Common Seals breed in the summer months, pups swimming and diving from birth, being born with waterproof coats; Common Seals do not form colonies; and the females (cows) mate at sea.
Grey Seals breed between November and February, when the beach becomes home to a colony. The cows arrive first and give birth about a day later. Like Common Seals, they feed their pups milk containing 60% fat for about 3 weeks, during which time the pups put on about 2KG weight a day. After 3 weeks, the pup is weaned and the cow returns to the sea leaving her baby to fend for itself. The pup will not leave the beach until it has moulted its non waterproof white baby fur and grown its mottled waterproof one - and when it is hungry enough. It will have to learn to survive and catch its own food at sea. Male Grey Seals arrive on the beach while the cows are still feeding their pups. They can weigh up to 300KG, are up to 3M in length and are formidable. Cows are about half the weight and size. There is much fighting by the males for supremacy over territory near the cows and mating rights and woe betide the pup that gets in the way. The fittest males will earn the right to mate with the cows before they return to the sea. Cows will return a year later to give birth again. More than half of those pups born at Horsey will not survive their first year.
Interesting Seal Facts :
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