Seals are the star attraction at Eyemouth’s harbour

SBBN-20-11-14 Wild Side Seals
SBBN-20-11-14 Wild Side Seals

One of the most popular visitor attractions in Eyemouth at this time of the year is to visit the harbour and feed the seals.

Several large seals are very happy to oblige the visitors with a close encounter, especially when they are rewarded with a tasty bit of fish thrown their way.

They can look very appealing when they look you straight in the eye hoping for another fish.

Berwickshire now has a very large breeding colony of Grey Seals.

Up until the 1980s only a few seals were born on our beaches each autumn.

Then an amazing explosion in the population occurred.

There is now a colony in Berwickshire where 1,000 or more pups are born each autumn.

It is thought that many of our seals originated from the large colony on the Isle of May out in the Firth of Forth.

There is another large colony on the Farne Islands in Northumberland. It is possible that the Berwickshire colony now exceeds that one in size.

The population numbers at the Farne Island colony are now more or less static, whereas our Berwickshire colony continues to expand and grow each year.

The pups are born in October and November which seems a strange time, as the small, newly weaned pups must survive the first few months of their lives out at sea in the winter storms.

The pups are born with a dense, soft, silky white fur and for three or four weeks rapidly fatten up on their mothers extremely fat-rich milk.

Within a month they are weaned, shed their white fur for a dense waterproof adult coat and leave the beaches to learn to fish and fend for themselves.

Mothers and pups can make loud wailing and moaning calls and the seal colonies are very noisy places. Their calls can be heard from a great distance.

Grey Seals are found on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean and in the Baltic Sea.

There are colonies around much of the British Isles.

The bulls are large animals and may reach 10 feet long and weigh 680lbs (310kg).

The females are smaller at about 6 feet long and 420lbs.

Their coats can vary in colour.

When they are swimming and wet they are a dark grey or even a black colour, but when they are out of water and dry out, then their coats are mottled and splashed with light grey and fawn.

Seals feed on a very wide range of fish and can dive to depths as much as 230 feet.

When they are not feeding they like to haul themselves out onto rocky outcrops and sand banks where they relax and sleep.

Please remember, if you are out walking along the shore and find a white seal pup, do not touch it or move it.

Leave the young pup well alone, as its mother will be out at sea keeping an eye on you and its precious offspring.