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Grey seal

The grey seals occur on the east and west coasts of the North Atlantic, in Europa from Biscaya to the Kola coast in Russia, including the Baltic. In Norway from Rogaland to Finnmark, they occur in colonies on the outermost islands.

The grey seal is easy to identify, particular the male with a head looking like a horse. At birth the pups have a white (greyish), long-haired coat called lanugo. The birth weight is approximately 15 kg. During a two-week sucling period they increase their body mass to 40–60 kg.

The grey seals occur in colonies of various densities on the most offshore islands along the Norwegian coast from Rogaland to Finnmark. In the area from Froan in Sør-Trøndelag to Lofoten in Nordland, the breeding season is in mid Sepember to late October, while the pupping period in Rogaland, Troms and Finnmark is from mid November to mid December.
The grey seal is managed separately in three areas: Lista–Stad, Stad–Lofoten and Vesterålen–Varanger. Recent DNA studies of grey seals show a strong genetic differentiation between the three current management areas

The grey seal is a main host for parasitic worms occurring in fish species, and can interact significantly with fisheries and fish farms.

Facts about grey seal

Latin name: Halichoerus grypus
Family: Phocidae
Body size: Males: > 2,3 m and > 300 kg. Females: < 1,9 m and 190 kg
Age at maturety: 5–7 years
Breeding and pupping season: September–December
Moult: February–April
Max age: 35–40 years
Distribution: Both sides of the North-Atlantic, in Europe from Biscaya to the Kola coast, including the Baltic. In Norway, they occur in colonies on the outermost islands from Rogaland to Finnmark.
Prey: Wolf fish, cod, saithe and haddock.
Other: Main host for parasitic worms occurring in fish species. Can interact significantly with fisheries and fish farms.
Numbers: 8700 (1+), political target level a population size equal to an annual production of approx. 1200 pups.
Total pup production: 1200–1300 (2006–2008) – decreasing after 2014
Quota advice: 5% of estimated minimum population, could be increased by 30% in areas where conflicts between seals and fisheries are high.

Status, advice and catch

Grey seal and harbour seal are coastal seals and they live in colonies along the Norwegian coast. Both species are exploited in a quota hunt.

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