MARINE LIFE AROUND SKYE   2000
by Nigel Smith (SeaProbe) 
17 May 2000

A pink (leucistic) Grey Seal, Halichoerus grypus, was seen around the Isle of Skye, western Scotland. As soon as the seal saw the boat, it took to the water straight away. The other seals continued to lay around on the rocky shore. The seal remained pink in colour even when wet, they normally turn dark. It was clearly visible under the surface due to its light colour.

Battle of the Seals

3 August 2000

A Grey Seal, Halichoerus grypus, was spotted eating a Common Seal, Phoca vitulina, pup on a normal Common Seal rookery on the shore of the Isle of Skye, western Scotland. One Common Seal had her pup much later than all the others and it appeared to be this pup that got eaten. During the day we had seen the pup a couple of times, alive on the rocks. Then when we came along later all the Common Seals had left the area, then the Grey Seal surfaced very near us with a pup sized Common Seal in its mouth. He then proceeded to tear it up and gradually consumed it in front of
us.

Ever since that event the Common Seals stopped returning to this regular haul out site. Later on in the season some of the seals came back to the area, but they were accompanied by three Grey Seals, which are normally only occasionally visitors to this area. The Grey Seals remained in the water below the Common Seals on the rocks; it seemed like they were staking them out?

Having said that, if the Grey Seals were lying in wait we didn't see any signs of bite marks on any of the Common Seals and we never saw any more of them being eaten. It was impossible to know if this pup had been scavenged or caught and eaten. The pup was fresh and had been seen alive less than an hour earlier!

28-31 August 2000
 


The Northern Bottle-nosed Whales, Hyperoodon ampullatus, visited Broadford Bay, Isle of Skye, but only stayed for a short time this year. The whales were very active and breached regularly for periods between one and two hours, giving spectacular displays.

5 September 2000

A pod of 12 Bottlenosed Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, (at least two young and one very large individual, possibly male?) were seen coming through the Kyle of Lochalsh, western Scotland; they did a circuit within the Loch before eventually going out under the Skye bridge and around to Broadford Bay. The same animals were seen on the West coast of Skye and in the sound of Sleat. I have never seen Bottlenosed Dolphins around Skye before, and a 75 year old fisherman on the west coast of Skye, said he had never seen them before either.

Cetacean Page


Nigel Smith  EMail: seaprobe@msn.com

SEAPROBE ATLANTIS CRUISES
4 UPPER BREAKISH
ISLE OF SKYE
IV42 8PY

Tel:  01471 822716

Season  April - October



Ref:
"Cannibalism by gray seals, Halichoerus grypus, on Amet Island, Nova Scotia" - Bedard C, Kovacs K, Hammill M; Mar Mamm Sci 9(4):421-424 1993. (from Peter Haddow)

Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 19:03:46 +0000
   From: Malcolm Ogilvie <malcolm@indaal.demon.co.uk>
Subject: Re: Grey Seals eating sea birds?

The following five short notes have appeared in the journal British Birds since 1945:

Manx Shearwater as prey of grey seals. Vol. 74 (1981), p.348
Eurasian Wigeon taken by grey seal. Vol 79 (1986), p.338
Common Eider attacked by grey seal. Vol 79 (1986), p.338
Razorbill taken by grey seal. Vol 79 (1986), p.338-9
Kittiwake attacking grey seals carrying fish. Vol 52 (1959), p.96

--
Malcolm


Hi Andy

I have recently been photographing grey seals at a small rookery in East Norfolk. Each year about 25-30 pups are born on the beach. Along with the adult females and a small number of bulls there is usually a few sub-adult animals hauled-up on the beach and a small number of common seals. Over the last 4 seasons all the common seals have been juveniles. The common seals usually haul out with the non-breeding greys, but also next to some of the bulls.  On  a couple of occasions this year, and in previous years, I have seen bull grey seals attack and bite common seals, in a couple of instances drawing blood.

Later in the winter (February-March) up to 60 grey seals haul out on the same beach to moult. Within this group (normally consisting of bulls, adult females, juveniles and this seasons pups) there is usually a few common seals (mainly sub-adults). At this time of year I have never seen any fighting between the greys or between the greys and commons.

Cheers

Graeme

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Graeme Cresswell, Environment Division, Norfolk County Council,
Norwich, Norfolk, NR1 2SG

Tel 01603 222765

EMAIL: graeme.cresswell.pt@norfolk.gov.uk



 
 
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