Saturday, 10 December 2011

Finally Sealed the deal

Although it is called the Common Seal it is in fact less common in the British Isles than the Grey Seal.

Appropriately the other name for the Common Seal is the Harbour Seal, and this ones been around the Harbour at Dover for a while. It isn't stupid as it seems to be benefiting from the kindness of the fisherman on the pier. The Common Seal has a rather dog like face compared to the more hoarse like face of a Grey Seal.

When it brought itself into a swimming position the back legs and flippers could be seen under the water. The common seal adults grow up to about 6 feet long, ca weigh as much as 168 kg. A female Common Seal can reach 30 years of age, but males are unlikely to survive beyond 20 years.

There were still a couple of Kittiwakes around the harbour, like the seal enjoying any tit-bits from the fishermen.

The nostrils appear distinctively V-shaped; and like all true seals, there is no ear flap, or pinna. A relatively large (for a seal) ear canal may be visible behind the eye.

It seemed to enjoy posing for the camera, but in reality it was the prospect of fish that kept it around the pier. They eat a wide variety of fish, including herring, sand-eels, whiting and flatfish. Shrimps and squid are also sometimes eaten.

In 1988 about 3000 deaths occurred in the British population of Common seals. The disease is now known to be caused by the newly discovered phocine distemper virus, but its origin is unknown. Epidemics have occurred in the passed and could happen again. The population seems to have recovered quite well at the moment. They are also vulnerable to fishing nets and pollution such as PCB's which accumulates in some of the prey species of fish.


Susan said...

Another priveliged wildlife watching experience. He's lovely.

Mike H said...

Also managed to get a few shots of the seal feeding on whiting throwaways from the fishing competition yesterday. Nice photos.