Wednesday, 12 October 2016

What will week 41 bring?

So far this season 156 seal pups have been born on Skomer, which is four less than the same time last year. The final number of course will depend on how the end of the season turns out. Maybe we have already reached the peak?

Week 39 (26/9-3/10) was very productive this year with 34 births. In 2013 we had 37 births in week 39 but in the following two years we found no more than 19 new born pups during the same period.

Seal pup births per week in 2015

If the pattern of the last two years continues we will reach our maximum number of births this week (week 41). We were lucky enough to witness a seal pup getting born this morning: after noticing a large, pregnant female on North Haven beach last night. We were expecting to see a new pup on the beach this morning. However at 07.00h the cow was still in the same spot and no new born pup in sight.

Then at 08.30h Alice, our Long-term Volunteer, came down to the office and she noticed this female lifting her lower body up and straining. So we all rushed outside to brace the cold northerly winds to watch with bated breath the female give birth to a soggy looking pup. Luckily (for her and for us watching with cold fingers) it only took her 15 minutes to give birth.

At 10.30h when Alice and I came back from checking the caves for seals the female was still with her pup and she was encouraging it to drink, she was stroking its head with her flipper and finally it managed to find the teat and suckle- probably its first drink

(Skomer Warden)

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