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In late October of 2012 a webcam was sited overlooking two Grey Seal breeding beaches on a remote peninsula on Sanday, in Orkney. Live action was streamed to the internet, and well over 90,000 hits were registered during the month of November. Video 'grabs' were recorded, and a variety have now been embedded in the 'Sealcam videos' page of this website - just choose a picture and click on the arrow; here's a sample:
Pup seals sometimes take a long time to find the nipples (there are two) of their mothers. The Cow helps by 'flippering' - guiding the youngster to the business end of her body. Then, the pup's nosing around causes the nipples to pop out (they are usually turned in, to improve streamlining in the sea). In this recording, which lasts five minutes, the pup seems more interested in nuzzling its mother, who does her best to manoeuvre her body to make things easier and obvious - to no avail! At the very end, the pup latches on.
Seal-watchers from more than 18 different countries looked in and sent emailed comments. Although the project closed at the end of November, we shall repeat the project, possibly with enhancements, in November 2013.
This year, 2013, we hope to relocate the apparatus to a different wildlife location on the island, so check the website from time to time. If you were one of the seal-watchers, please send a brief email to say which country you've watched from, especially if your country is NOT included in this list: USA, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Scotland, England, Wales
The Grey Seals were on two of Sanday's remote beaches. The action was live - well, nearly; it appeared on screen about ten seconds after it actually happened.
The first pups were born in late October, and the camera, controlled remotely, was on from dawn 'til dusk. It was monitored from the Ranger's house ten kilometres away. The Sealcam project was a joint initiative between the RSPB's Enjoy Wild Orkney project and Sanday's Development Trust's Ranger Service, with the help and expertise of local landowners and Triscom Technology Ltd.
The pictures were streamed live every day in November from 0730-1630 (it's too dark to see before and after those times). Weather sometimes affected the visibility; raindrops on the lens hood obscured vision; wind caused camera-shake. The exposed position of the Sealcam inevitably made it susceptible to wind and rain....the four photographs below were taken on the day the apparatus was set up.
enlarging the gap en route to the proposed site, in order that the tractor, trailer, and solar-panels can get through...
squeezing through the gap
on site - preparing post hole...
securing the cables...
the Bull seal
Instead of fending off the advances of the Bull seal, the mothers are rather more receptive when lactation is over (14-18 days)
The last pup was been born on Thursday 22nd November
The pups increase in weight by about 2 kg very day, and most of that increase is apparent as an increase in girth, not length.
They are creating their thick layer of insulating blubber prior to making for the sea.
You might like to have a look at a few stills 'grabbed' from the events of the last month - click here.
Better still, have a look at the video-sequences that were also recorded: they are on a separate page; Sealcam videos - click here.
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