Gray seal

The gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) is a carnivorous mammal of the family Phocidae. The male gray seal can reach a length of 4 meters and a weight of 400 kg while females reach 2.2 m and 200 kg. Their bodies are stocky and fusiform (spindle-like). Their eyes are relatively small compared to the rest of the body. Their webbed feet are wide, short and thick. The individual adult male can be distinguished from another species of seal by his long nose and slightly arched shaped "horse head", by his massive shoulders and wide as well as thick and wrinkled skin in the region of neck.
The color of the grey seal has a variety of shades of gray with a sexual dimorphism visible. Males have a short nap fur dark gray almost black with some bright spots, with females being more clear with dark spots. At birth the young is 90 cm and weighs 11 to 20 kg. It will quickly take the weight to about 50 kg after 16 days. The young is covered with white woolly coat end (called "lanugo"), which is why it is sometimes called "white coat".

Stage of Development 

  • Stage 1: Newborn babies still covered with amniotic fluid, yellowish coat, heavily wrinkled skin, clumsy approach (from 0 to 3 days)
  • Stage 2: (Thin White) well-defined neck, trunk cylindrical, white coats (3 to 6 days)
  • Stage 3: (Bold white) Neck and trunk together, fusiform in shape, coat white to light gray (6 to 18 days)
  • Stage 4: (Guenillou) Lanugo standing out of the body except the face (18 to 26 days)
  • Stage 5: (Brasseur) Lanugo completely fallen, exposing the underlying juvenile coat or isolated clumps of 5 cm in diameter still present (from 26 days to one month and a half)


The gray seal is found in the sub arctic waters off North America, Europe, and the North and Baltic Seas. In Canada and Europe. Large colonies are located in England, Ireland and Scotland.Grey seals frequent coastal areas along coasts that are sandy and rocky. And similar colonies are located in Canadian waters.


Grey seals are opportunistic feeders and rely on available resources in the environment where they live. In the St. Lawrence, In Canadian waters they feed on a wide variety of fish species as well as crustaceans. They can dive to 400 meters (can hold his breath for 15 minutes), thus the pantry is large.


The female matures to 3-5 years and the male to 5-6 years. Grey seals practice polygamy. Males are not territorial, but they retain access to herds of females in transition.
In the Gulf, the den sites located on the ice are concentrated in the Northumberland Strait and Bay St. George. Births taking place on land occur mainly on the smaller islands of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Outside the Gulf of St. Lawrence, birthing takes place largely on Sable Island and to a lesser degree on the Nova Scotia coast and on the Hay, Camp White islands, and Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy.
Mating occurs between late December and February, just after the pups were weaned. Gestation lasts about 12 months (1 dog / year), including a period of 3 weeks of implantation in which the embryo is dormant.
The young are suckled for about three weeks and lose their lanugo, fur soft and silky cream, after two to four weeks.The female can live up to 45 years, but males rarely live beyond 30 years.


Man ...and a few orcas and polar bears.


In the 1980s, the population was only a few tens of thousands, but in the absence of predation, the herd has exploded and is now estimated at some 300 000 individuals. The gray seal is more voracious than his cousin Greenland (Harp) (over 1.5 tonnes of food annually per individual) and spends much more time in the Gulf of St. Lawrence than the latter. The absence of predation on this stock contributes, no doubt, to the decrease of fish stocks in the area.
StatusThe gray seal is listed species as an non endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)

       Le Soleil,Publié le 12 janvier 2010 Îles-de-la-Madeleine: les phoques gris de plus en plus nombreux


ICI-RADIO-CANADA.COM : Abattage massif envisagé, Ici Radio-Canada, le jeudi 27 mai 2010