Seal Facts

Grey Seals

Scientific name:

Halichoerus grypus 

(Meaning‘Hook Nosed Sea Pig’)

Grey seals, also known as Atlantic seals, are majestic marine mammals inhabiting the coasts of Ireland. With distinctive grey coats and endearing faces, they play crucial roles in marine ecosystems, contributing to biodiversity and captivating hearts worldwide.

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Quick Facts:


Irish grey seals have a prolonged pupping season, typically from August to winter, with a peak in October and November, adapting to seasonal variations.

Grey seal pups measure around 2.5 to 3.5 feet (90-105 cm) in length and weigh between 12 to 16 kilograms at birth.

Grey seal pups are born with fluffy white fur and spend their first 3 weeks on the beach. They feed on their mother’s high-fat milk, tripling in weight before being weaned.

After weaning, grey seal pups must fend for themselves and learn to hunt fish independently. Sadly, only about 50% survive their first year due to high mortality rates.

Adult males reach over 2 metres (6.5 – 8 feet) in length and can weigh over 310kg. Males have a shorter life expectancy than females at 25 years.

Adult females are significantly smaller than males at 1.8metres (over 5.5 feet) in length and weigh on average 155kg. Female Grey seals live longer than males at around 35 years.

Protected under Irish Wildlife Act and EU’s Marine Mammal Protection Act, grey seals nearly went extinct due to hunting, now recovering thanks to conservation efforts.

Currently, Irish waters host an estimated population of 8,000 to 10,000 grey seals, highlighting their significant presence and importance in the marine ecosystem.

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Seal Conservation

Protection of Seals

It is against the law to intentionally disturb or harm a seal. Both Grey and Common Seals are aProtected Species in Ireland Under the Irish Wildlife Act, 1976 and The EU’sMarine Mammal Protection Act, 1972. They are considered a species of special concern in Ireland due to the important part they play in our marine environment.

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