Zeehond hoofd Foto Stefan Hage

Seals good swimmer and fisher

One of the most famous predators and mammals of the Wadden Sea is the seal. Seals are super good swimmers against whom you would lose any swimming competition, they can swim through the water at around 35 km/h. But on land, they can only reach 2 km/h. So for a triathlon, you just have to bike better to win. Did you know that two different seals live on and around Texel? The common seal and the grey seal, they both belong to the canine seal family (without a visible auricle). Want to know more about the swimming inhabitants? Then read on!

The common seal

The common seal (Phoca vitulina vitulina) is found mainly in Europe, from Portugal to Norway, and also here on Texel. They are recognisable by their round head and their grey-silver fur with dark spots. Seals have no specific fish species they eat, but they prefer to eat flatfish, gobies, sand eels and smaller fish under 20 cm. Seal pups also like to eat shrimp.

Cubs are born in early summer (May/June) at low tide on sandbanks. Here, the small seals weigh only 7-10 kg and have short water-repellent fur. They follow their mother into the water right at the next high tide. After only four weeks, the little ones should become independent and here they already weigh 25 kg. How do they do it? With seal milk, which contains 45% fat. This gives them a good fat pad, which is just enough for the time they have to teach themselves to fish.

Grey seal

The grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) was almost extinct and is on the red list (list of animal species from the Netherlands have disappeared or are in danger of disappearing, these are given extra protection). But fortunately, some now live again in the northern and western Atlantic and in the North and Baltic Seas. They can be recognised by their long snout and cone-shaped teeth (from which they got their name (cone seal)). They mainly eat fish, but also shellfish, mussels and the occasional bird.

The young are born between late November and late January with fluffy white fur, which protects them from the wind but not from the cold water. Therefore, they spend the first period on sand banks, on the beach or in the dunes, where they wait for their mother to return to suckle them. The mother's milk is very rich in fat (53%), so the grey seal pup soon develops a thick layer of fat, with which it feeds while renewing its fur. After 2-3 weeks, the pups can change their fur, which takes about 3-6 weeks. They are now independent and swim up the North Sea.

Did you know...
Did you know...

Want to know even more about seals? Then visit Ecomare the seal sanctuary on Texel or join one of the various seal tours.

Be careful with your dog!

Going to the beach with your dog? Before letting your four-legged friend loose on the beach, it is important to watch out for seals. If dogs notice a seal, there is a risk that they will bite the seal. It is also important to keep a distance of at least 30 metres. This will prevent the spread of disease.

Young seals in distress

Do you see a seal on the beach? Then keep your distance. Can you see from a distance that the seal is in bad shape and are worried about the pup's welfare? Then it is advisable to call Ecomare Tel: 0222-317741.

Main photo: Stefan Hage

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