06 May 2010

Common Seal still here

Driving over Loughor bridge today I noticed that the Common Seal was back on its sand bank. I had great scope views with Wendell Thomas, who just happened to be passing. I informed a few locals of this rare visitor to the Burry, including Geri Rees who took this image after it had swam under the bridges and was resting just out from the yacht club car park (SS562981). Geri's image shows the nostril pattern much better than my earlier efforts, as-well-as the banana posture.
Interestingly when I told my nephew, who hangs out with his friends around the bridge area, he said he'd seen a seal there about two weeks ago. We do occasionally see Grey Seals there, but it seems more likely that it's been present for a little while. Also of interest I noticed a scar on its back today, which looked the size of Grey Seal's bite!

[For identification features check out http://www.smru.st-andrews.ac.uk/documents/IdentifyingSeals.pdf]

7 comments:

Coastcard said...

I wonder if it is the same seal as the one on Professor P. Brain's blog...

Barry Stewart said...

Where on his blog is it mentioned? I had a good browse, but could not see any pics, though didn't go through the text.

Barry Stewart said...

still there again this morning, just north of the bridge. What I initially thought was a bite on its back now looks more like a 'D' mark that may have been painted on with paint or wax, so it may be possible to trace its origins?

Barry Stewart said...

Callan Duck of the Sea Mammal Research Unit wrote:

I attach a pdf we created to show the key differences between harbours and greys, hope is it useful. Please pass it around if you wish [please email me if you would like this].

The main characteristics that I believe are diagnostic are:

The position of the eye from the tip of the nose to the back of the skull. Harbours: 1/3 from nose, greys: 1/2. Gives the impression that harbours have quite a short nose. This is related to the next feature...

The position of the mouth under the nose. Greys have a very fleshy nose and their mouth is about 3-6cm under the tip of the nose (depending on the age and sex of the seal). Harbour seal mouth is virtually under its nose, irrespective of sex and age. 1cm back at most.

I find the nostril bit really confusing and unclear and do not recommend it! Mainly because I can never remember which is 'supposed' to be v-shaped and which is more parallel. Also very different between individuals and entirely dependent on the degree of opening of the nostrils.

You will find more info on seals around the UK on our website, especially in teh Advice documents we submit annually to Government at: http://www.smru.st-and.ac.uk/documents/341.pdf

Mark Hipkin said...

This is a nice running topic. I'm very interested in the identifying features, which have been described well. The photos showing these features have been great. I feel in a much better position to confidently identify a Seal now, given a good view.

Barry Stewart said...

Still present this morning...

Sarah said...

Saw a seal in Oxwich Bay this morning