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Grey Seal

Up until the early twentieth century grey seals were common in the Baltic and they were a popular prey.

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Today 22/9 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sun 23/9 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Mon 24/9 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tue 25/9 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Wed 26/9 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
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The grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) lives in the Baltic and is the largest of Sweden’s three species of seal. It lives mostly on cod and Baltic herring and dives to a depth of about 100 metres to catch its prey. 

Seals are mammals that have adapted to a life in water. They have webbed feet like fins and their bodies are spool-shaped. A thick layer of fat insulates them against the cold water in the winter. Their fur is short and dense and they change it every spring.

They can stay under water for up to twenty minutes. It can even sleep under water, rising to the surface every five minutes or so to breathe. In February or March the female gives birth to a single pup on the drift-ice. When the pup is born it weighs about 10 kilos but it grows very rapidly since the mother’s milk is extremely fat and rich in proteins. During the first month the pup increases fivefold in weight. For the first weeks of life it is clad in thick white fur and it is not until this has moulted that the pup normally enters the water.

Up until the early twentieth century grey seals were common in the Baltic and they were a popular prey. They provided hunters both with meat and a useful hide. The fat was boiled to make oil which was burnt in lamps.

Several factors, such as environmental pollution and hunting, have led to a reduction in seal populations in the Baltic. Attempts are being made to preserve the threatened species of seals by establishing protection zones and forbidding certain pollutants. Skansen’s seals are fed with fish from the Atlantic where the water is cleaner than in the Baltic.


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