The Atlantic Grey Seal, Halichoeurus grypus – meaning “hooked nose sea pig”, is a very common visitor to the Pembrokeshire Coast and many Celtic Quest groups have been treated to a cheeky seal popping up, gazing at us as if to say ” what manner of creature are you?”.
The Atlantic Grey is a medium sized seal with larger bulls sometimes reaching up to 4m and weighing in excess of 300kg. Female grays (cows) are much smaller. An average cow would be 150 to 200kg and typically no more than 2m long. Greys are quite wasy to distinguish from common seals but their wide set nostrils and a “straight head profile”. Grey seals also have a lot less white spots than common seals.
Atlantic Grey Seals have a varied diet. Mostly consisting of fish species such as flatfish, herring and in some areas skate. The grey will largely eat whatever it can get its flippers on, including octopus, lobster and cuttlefish.
On average an atlantic seal eats up to 5kg daily, except females during breeding season, who fast for the duration.
Atlantic greys are enjoying something of a renaisance, numbers are growing in nearly all colonies throughout its range of the northern Atlantic.
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) classifies Atlantic Grey Seals as at low risk “least concern” of extinction.
In fact there have been some calls for a cull from fishermen, claiming stocks have been depleted due to seal feeding.
The team at Celtic Quest love the fact that we are allowed a glimpse of these beautiful mammals. And are happy to share our playground with them.