Wild; wet and windswept, the Isle of May feels like the end of the earth. Yet this rocky outpost on the fringes of the North sea is a safe haven for wildlife and home to one of the UK's largest breeding colonies of Grey seal. 


If you would like to learn more about the Isle of May then check out the fantastic blog:


and follow the reserve manager David Steel here:


The Grey seal is a stalwart of the UK coastline, it is our second-largest resident carnivore  (after the orca) and  the largest pinniped to  grace our waters regularly.   Large  bull males can reach 3.3m in length and weigh upward of 250kg, significantly larger than their 'common seal' cousins.


Grey seals reside in the north Atlantic, with a range spanning Scandinavia, the UK, Iceland and northeast America, the  British Isles  host around 40% of the world's  population  of Greys.


Breeding takes place during Autumn at several key coastal sites around the UK.  At, birth, grey seal pups weigh about 13 kg. and are covered in long white fur. For the first three weeks of their lives, pups rarely swim, suckling from their mothers 5 to 6 times a day, for up to 10 minutes at a time. The milk is rich in fat and the pups rapidly put on weight.   The mother remains just offshore between suckling bouts and rarely feeds, she may lose up to 25% of her body weight before her pup is weaned.  Grey seal pups are weaned after losing their baby coat at 3 to 4 weeks of age, weighing 45 to 50 kg; three times their birth weight. The pups live off these fat reserves whilst learning to feed  over  several weeks.


The largest colonies can be found in the Outer Hebrides, notably the Monach islands.  Elsewhere large breeding colonies can be found on  the Farne islands,  the Norfolk coast, the Hebridies and the Isle of May.