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Grey Seals of the River Blackwater

Grey Seals of the River Blackwater

How do grey seals regulate their body temperature?

Since our last article we have collectively spent over 36 hours monitoring the seals along the River Blackwater, seeing a variety of  behaviour. This month we are exploring their movement and their behaviour we have been observing.

Our seals tend to move around the River dependent on the tides. At high tide, they usually (in numbers of up to 15 individuals), head out of the River Blackwater to forage and feed. When the tides start to drop, we see them return to their haul out sights, where they come to rest and interact with each other.

We have 2 types of seals that inhabit our River: Harbour and Grey (see photos). Harbour seals have a rounded head, with a steeping forehead and large round eyes, accompanied by a shortened snout. Grey seals have a distinctive long, elongated snout, an oval face, with their eyes smaller and appearing slightly on the side of the head.

Harbour Seals of The River BlackwaterGrey Seals of The River Blackwater







Harbour Seal Hauled OutHarbour seals when they haul out (rest on the mudflats) like their space and tend to spread apart from one another along the mudflats.

Grey seals however, are quite the opposite and like to be on top of each other and quite close together. Sometimes grey seals like to visit the harbour seal haul out sites and occasionally you may see the odd grey seal or two hidden in a harbour seal colony. When hauled out most of the time you will see the seals resting. In each colony you will find at least one seal scanning.

This behaviour is where the seal is checking for any unfamiliar noises, approaching dangers or threats that could impact on the colony. Scanning time can vary between individuals and the number of individuals in the colony.

They usually like quiet areas away from human interaction, in areas where there is an increase in human activity scanning duration and frequency will increase.

Other behaviour you might see is the ‘banana’ behaviour. Both the head and the tail will be raised above their central body, creating the shape of a banana, which helps them to regulate their body temperatures.

They regularly display this behaviour along our mudflats before slipping into the shallows and off to feed.

Seals on River Blackwater

We hope by everyone working together we can all protect and enjoy these beautiful animals. If you would like to be involved or gain more information please email:

If you see a marine mammal that appears to be in distress, hurt or injured please contact your local marine mammal medic, Jacqui Monk on 07952 416555 – Keep a look out for our next article on our River Blackwater Seals.

– Jacqui Monk –


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