Travel Tuesday: common seal


In the past, I’ve shown you some images of grey seals. Today, I have a common seal for you.

Common seals are smaller than grey seals. Males are approximately 170 cm, females 140 cm and weight 150 respectively 100 kg).

While grey seals are curious and sociably, common seal are shy and solitary. Grey seals are laying in groups together, while common seals keep a distance of 2 or 3 meters to each other, whenever possible. They are stressed when a sand bench is too full.

Gray seals get their babies during winter and they don’t cry when left alone by their mother for hunting. Common seals instead, get their babies in summer and these are the ones, called howler (abandoned seal pup).

While grey seals choose beaches for resting, common seals prefer sand benches for resting. But, sand benches are usually only usable during low tide. At high tide, the sand benches are usually under water. Other then grey seals, common seal babies are born with the ability to swim. Birth size and weight are 85 cm and 10 kg. So, that’s not a problem to react to high tide. They are fed by their mother for about 5 weeks and than left alone.

Take care!



Travel Tuesday: adolescent seal

This young grey seal isn’t a baby anymore. Compare the image with the one I posted last week. Although, it still has its baby fat, it already has changed fur and is ready to start to live alone. Since the mother left the baby at an age of 3 or 4 weeks, it is alone. Someday, when hunger comes, it is ready to go in the sea and start to learn hunting fish. Pay attention to the teeth: it’s a predator!

Take care!


Travel Tuesday: baby seal

Do you remember the image I showed you six weeks ago? The image of a new-born seal.

Today, I have another baby for you. But, this one is a ‘bit’ older. It’s born on January 2nd and the photo is taken on January 17th. So, it’s two weeks old. Compare the two images. Gray seals get fed with milk by their mother for only 3 – 4 weeks. Every day their weight rises enormously. They weigh 10 – 15 kg at birth. Every day, the weight increases by 1-2 kg. After that, the mother leaves them alone at the beach. Their fur changes from the soft white to the ticker grey fur, dense enough to swim. The babies can’t go swimming as long as they have their white fur. After changing fur, as an adolescent they are able to go in the water and start learning hunting on their own.

Take care!


Travel Tuesday: having a rest by the sea

This female eider duck is resting on the beach, but having an eye open for the people around her. They are much shyer than the common mallards.

Take care!


Travel Tuesday: Tetrapods

Each of these tetrapods weights about 6 tons. They are used for saving the coasts from heavy surfs and breakers. You’ve already seen them in action in one of my last images taken on Heligoland.

Take care!


Travel Tuesday: I’m back …

Last week I was on Helgoland again. For the third time (after 2011 and 2016), I met with some friends in January on Helgoland.

You could ask, why I travel to the North Sea in mid winter. It’s dark, wet, cold and the sea is rough. Only very few people find their way to Helgoland during winter. In summer, it’s a destination for yachtsmen and day tourists for duty-free shopping. But, in winter?????

We’re going there for seeing nature, animals (birds and seals). The grey seals get their babies during winter. While the first wild grey seal was born in winter 1996/97, there were about 100 babies in 2011. 2016 there were already more than 316 and this year more than 426 babies from October 1st until January, 21st (when we left Helgoland).

The baby in the above image was born only a few hours ago.

Although, these animals look so cute. Keep in mind, they are the most dangerous animal in Germany. A male wights up to 300 kg and is much quicker on the beach than a human. So, many signs advise the visitors to pay much attention and keep a distance of at least 30 m between you and a seal. Winter is not only the season for giving birth, it’s als mating season. So, you can also see some fights between the adults (also there are fewer fights in January, because both, birth and mating season have reached their end).

Fortunately, most of the visitors behave good. But, every time you can see some people behaving very bad: going too close, standing between mother and baby, standing between animal and the see and so on. You got the picture. I guess, one day a seal could attach such a rude and ruthless human and I fear, that animal will be killed because of that. Next, they will be declared as too dangerous, and no-one will be allowed to visit them so easy.

During the 1970 they were completely exterminated in the whole Deutsche Bucht (German Bight). From the late 1980s they re-conquered a sandbank near Amrum. That sandbank became a bridgehead for repopulating the German Bight again. Recently, I saw a report saying there were more than 12,000 grey seals in the German Bight again.

Grey seals don’t attack humans. As long as you keep the distance, they stay calm. They look at you when you come nearer to check up the situation, but calm down again very easy. When they think, they are in danger, they start to hiss loud and show their teeth. A male might try to come a bit nearer to you (a few steps), but generally they tend to flee instead to attack.

Take care!

P.S. when interested, I could help you to arrange a visit next winter 🙂