It has been a busy few weeks for our Atlantic grey seals. Ramsey is a hugely important site for these animals, with the largest population in southern Britain. The number of pups under 3 weeks of age, on our busiest beach sites, peaked at 103 on 19 September this year. So although we are now past the most hectic period for pup births, the island's beaches are still littered with youngsters and their attentive mothers. A count yesterday gave 58 pups on these same sites.
The weather has been kind for the majority of the autumn, with some big tides but few storms. However, this week we have had sustained strong southerly winds, making many of our pupping beaches pretty rough. As a result, many large, moulted pups have been getting themselves high and dry of the raging sea. This often appears to be an intentional move, by a clever juvenile who wants to sleep through the worst of the weather. Many haul out on the rocks at high tide and are then left hanging when the tide ebbs. Others seem to be almost 'thrown' up by the ocean onto the island, like the one in the photo.
This healthy, moulted pup was left virtually on the footpath by the big southerly swell in Aber Felin and has been sunning itself in the grass ever since. Our day visitors this morning had to squeeze past as the pup told us in no uncertain terms that we were not welcome!
They may look harmless but this pup was snarling and ready to defend itself if necessary. Pups of any age are definately best given a wide berth, for the sake of the pup and for your own safety.
This pup is only just three weeks old, having just finished the moult of it's white natal coat. It's mother will have abandoned it and returned to the sea to feed. But because of all her hard work over the last three weeks, her youngster has reached a good size which has seen it more than triple it's birth weight of 14kg. It should now have enough fat reserves to keep itself going whilst it learns to eat solid food and hunt for itself.
There are currently moulted pups all around the island and many newborns still be be seen. The island remains open to the public until the end of October, so pick a good day and come over to see the seals before we close for the year.