Grey Seal

Halichoerus grypus


A very large mammal, the Grey Seal spends most of its time out at sea where it feeds on fish. It is often found on rocky shores, although large colonies of Grey Seals breed on sandy shores on the East Coast: the fluffy, white pups can be seen between October and December. The pups remain on land until they have moulted their white coats and trebled their birth weight; at which point they head to the sea to hunt for themselves.

How to identify

The Grey Seal can be distinguished from the Common Seal by its larger size and longer head with a sloping 'Roman nose' profile. Mainly grey in colour, with darker blotches and spots.

Where to find it

Found around the coasts of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of East, North West and South West England.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Grey Seals suffered from severe persecution, their numbers dwindling as a result. Thankfully, Grey Seal populations have increased due to a ban on shooting and now the largest European population is found in the British Isles. Although protected, they still suffer from illegal shooting, pollution and disturbance when breeding. To help seals and other marine wildlife, The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. You can do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Grey Seal
Latin name
Halichoerus grypus
Seals, turtles and other marine mammals
Length: up to 3m Weight: 120-300kg Average Lifespan: 30-40 years
Conservation status
Protected in Britain under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970. Also protected under the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 and the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.