Grey seal pupping season

On a recent trip (22/10/2016) out in Clew Bay I discovered some Grey Seal pups. Each pup was a “whitecoat,” perhaps two weeks old on the rocky shore of a small islet. An adult female was present nearby resting in the seaweed fringe. A Bull Grey Seal was also loitering near the female. Common Seals are more common in Clew Bay, but they almost all disperse to sea in the winter, but the odd one can still be seen. If you come across a live seal pup on a beach over the next month, its mother is likely nearby and its best alone. Come for a trip and help count Grey Seals pupping in Clew Bay’s island archipelago.

Parental care is given by the female only with feeding occurring regularly every six hours on fatty milk for the first three weeks of the pup’s life, during this time grey seal pups will show a daily average weight gain of up to 2kg while nursing.

The grey seal cow will usually not feed during the weaning period and will remain close to the pup until it can swim and hunt for itself. Once the pup is fully weaned the female will mate again with a dominant bull at the rookery site.

Female grey seals reach full sexual maturity by their fourth year while males will be fully grown by their sixth birthday although they may not reach the required size to mate and defend territories during the breeding season until they are ten years old. Females can live to 40 years of age while males generally will not survive after 25 years. (Source:



Published by shayfennelly

Marine scientist and photographer. Interested in all marine ecology, exploration, science and technology.

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