Orkney Seals

Orkney is an internationally important breeding site for two species of seals – the grey and the common seal.  These charismatic creatures are both friendly and inquisitive, but it's best to steer clear of mothers with pups.  You are certain to spot seals here basking on skerries at low tide, or even have them follow you in the water as you walk along the shore.  If you whistle or sing it helps with the Pied Piper effect.  Both grey and common seals make their home in Orkney.

Grey seals are the heavier of the two and give birth to their milky white pups from October onwards.  The pups remain on land to suckle for 18-21 days to put on fat for the cold winter at sea.  They have a Roman nose and females live for about 35 years and males for 25.  Fifteen per cent of the world population of grey seals are in Orkney.  There were about 25,000 in Orkney in 2007.  They favour isolated skerries and beaches and can be seen spread out from one another while basking.

Common seals are less common than grey seals.  They are smaller and have their pups around June and July.  These pups can go to sea almost immediately.  This species spends days at sea feeding but there are plenty of haul-out areas to spot them on when they come ashore.  Just listen out for their mournful, haunting cry.  Females live for about 30 years and males for 20.

The number of common seals has declined in Orkney by around 50% in the past ten years, and no one is certain what has caused this.  Presently, there are about 7,000 common seals here.

Orkney folk legends tell of the magical race of selkies – seals in Orcadian dialect.  It is said they shed their sealskins on Midsummer’s Eve, and became beautiful seal folk who bewitched humans.

Related Videos
Google News
Harbour seal numbers 'continue to fall' in Scotland
Fewer animals were counted on Scotland's east coast and in Orkney in surveys by St Andrews University Sea Mammal Research Unit. But the work commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), found an increase in harbour seals on the west coast.
BBC News
Shetland: Scotland's wild, awe-inspiring islands
The boat takes 12 hours from Aberdeen ? longer if it stops in Orkney on the way ? and I've made the journey so often that I have a ritual. A meal in the ... Summer is the time for trips on the water to get up close and personal with seals and seabirds ...
Outdoor British weddings give breath of fresh air to new couples wanting to ...
The whole event, including the wedding and honeymoon to Orkney, cost 800. Meanwhile Ashley and Craig Whiting eloped to ... Ashley said: ?We saw seals while we were being married and it was so quiet and romantic. ?Everyone was very surprised on our ...
Scottish Daily Record
Great Train Rides: Run Away on the Rails
From there I'll take a taxi to the ferry terminal, then a boat to the Orkney Islands, where I'm researching a story on marine energy. Changing trains in Inverness, there's time for lunch at the Mustard Seed, a converted church with a wood-burning stove ...
Wall Street Journal