VIDEO: Seal spotted hunting on East Devon beach

PUBLISHED: 10:37 21 January 2019

A grey seal spotted in the shallows on Exmouth Beach. Video by Chris Proffitt.

A grey seal spotted in the shallows on Exmouth Beach. Video by Chris Proffitt.

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The seal appeared to be using the beach’s shallows to catch fish.

One of the country’s largest sea mammals has been spotted frolicking on an East Devon beach.

Chris Proffitt from Exmouth spotted the seal, believed to be a grey seal, on Thursday (January 17) after driving to Exmouth seafront to watch the sun set.

In the video the seal appears to be using the beach’s shallows to catch fish but when Chris first saw the seal, which may be a pup, he thought it was a dog in distress.

“We had taken a drive down to Orcombe point after a long day to sit and watch the beautiful sunset,” said Chris.

A grey seal on Lundy Island.A grey seal on Lundy Island.

“We pulled in not far down past the toilets and noticed what we thought was a dog in distress. We were so worried because ‘the dog’ we had seen didn’t surface for a while but then only a few moments later we saw that it was a seal.

“It looked like a baby one too. Such a relief.”

Grey seals start the pupping season in autumn and it continues through to January, depending on the location of their colony.

Seals are not a common sight, but can be spotted off the East Devon coast.

The vertical nostrils of this seal identify it as a grey seal, photographed in the upper Exe Estuary. Photo: B LaddThe vertical nostrils of this seal identify it as a grey seal, photographed in the upper Exe Estuary. Photo: B Ladd

They can grow up to 2.6m in length, with males weighing up to 300kg and females weighing in, on average, at 200kg.

The Exe Estuary is an important habitat for both resident and migratory birds, as well as grey seals and birds of prey.

But seals are often difficult to spot and usually keep their distance from the shore.

According to The Wildlife Trust grey seals, which can live up to 40 years, spend most of their time out at sea feeding on fish.

They are most easily spotted when they ‘haul out’ onto rock or beaches to digest their food.

Grey seals also come ashore when giving birth, with fluffy white seal pups being born between September and December.

They can be distinguished from the UK’s other native seal species, the common seal, by their larger size, longer head and sloping nose.

When looking at a grey seal their nostrils are parallel, rather than v-shaped like common seals.

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