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Why are Grey Seal Pups White?

Identify It >   Marine Mammals >   Grey Seals >   Grey Seal Pups >

Here in the UK we're lucky enough to have more than half of the worlds Grey seal population around our coastline.  Between September and November the females come ashore to give birth to their pups.

The strange thing about Grey seal pups is their colour.  The young of most animals have colours that blend in with their background to keep them hidden and protect them from predators.  With Grey seals it appears that the opposite is true.

In fact the white fur is a throwback to our last ice age.  White pups would be well camouflaged in a snow covered landscape, and these white fur coats show that Grey seals evolved thousands of years ago at a time when these islands were covered with ice and snow.  Nowadays this white fur makes the pups too conspicuous, and they begin to moult and darken within just a few days of birth.

Some of the best places to watch seals in the UK are:

  • Blakeney Point, Norfolk
  • The Farne Islands
  • The Isles of Scilly
  • Skomer Island
  • Cardigan Bay
  • The Hebrides
  • Strangford Lough

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