Pupping season is well underway in Orkney. Haulouts are filled with activity and movement, as mum and pup pairs keep showing up. This has also gotten the attention of seagulls and great skuas, who keep a close eye on the seals and are very quick at taking the opportunity of a placenta laying in the seaweed or on the rocks.
Pups can be seen fast asleep, resting, or suckling but are also extremely active, going into the water for a swim and exploring the new surroundings as well as the new neighbors! Mum and pup pairs interact by touching nose to nose and calling each other, and young pups are often seen riding on their mum’s back in the water. In general mums keep a close eye on the pups, following them into the water when the young ones decide it’s time for a swim!
Pups are regularly seen suckling, either on dry land or close to the water. But it’s not always a straight forward business, especially when mum decides to rest on a rather small rock for the both of them to settle. Check the next video:
The exploratory visits by the new pups into their surroundings and to check on the neighbors are often received with simple curiosity by the juvenile and adult seals when presented with a tiny pup. Other times though, they cause trouble. Mums may quickly intervene to put an end to an unwelcome interaction between their pup and other seals, but other times they just keep an eye from the distance.
Pregnant females are especially not very happy to have a small pup approaching them, and they make it very clear to the newcomer by growling and moving the fore flippers to keep them away. In the video below you can see a young pup approaching the seal on the right, who is pregnant, while its mum, the seal on the left, observes the interaction close by.
Written by Monica