Hailed the dogs of the sea, these doe-eyed, sub-aquatic acrobats are year-round residents of the Cornish coasts and always a delight to see. Curious, surprisingly graceful in the water and utterly handsome beings, seals are easily spotted if you spend enough time by the water.
Native residents, both grey seals and common seals are at home in Cornish waters. The larger of the two species, record bull grey seals can reach a phenomenal 10ft in length and can weigh over 500lbs! Although a little hard to distinguish from afar, as well as being bigger the grey seal also has a longer head than the common seal. Grey seals also have ‘parallel’ nostrils, while those of common seals are in a v shape.
You can see seals in Cornwall year-round, although they spend a lot of their time out at sea where they hunt for fish. However, as female grey seals usually give birth in autumn, October and November are two of the best months to see them. Having spent 11 months of the year pregnant, mothers will spend three weeks looking after their fluffy white pups on land before returning to the sea, giving onlookers a fantastic opportunity to glimpse mother and baby from afar.
While it is always really exciting to see seals, they are wild animals and should always be watched from a distance. Particularly vulnerable on land where they take time out to digest their food and rest, they can be easily spooked so should never be approached by humans or pets. This is especially true for seal mothers, who can sometimes abandon pups if they feel threatened.
One of the top places to see seals in Cornwall is Mutton Cove, found just past Godrevy Head in West Cornwall. Home to a large colony of grey seals year-round, numbers can soar up to the hundreds by January with all the new pups! With a bird’s eye view from the top of the cliffs (the beach itself has no access), a pair of binoculars will give you a fantastic up-close look at the seals below.
If you would like another way to see seals, Seal Island in St Ives is home to a thriving colony of grey seals. Several tour operators run from the harbour, so book yourself onto a trip and keep your eyes peeled. Closer to our luxury cottages in Padstow, there are a number of boat operators who leave from Padstow harbour too and who will take you out along the coast, where you can see seals, and even dolphins and whales too.
For more information, visit: http://cornwallsealgroup.co.uk/