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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Mary Herlihy The baby seal.

Seals usually found in the Arctic Ocean spotted in Cork and Kerry waters

They would be sighted regularly off the coast of Greenland.

RARE SEALS USUALLY found on the drifting ice of the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic were spotted in west Cork waters this week. 

An adult male Hooded Seal (Cystophora cristata) was seen in Schull, Cork, and a young ringed seal pup was spotted in Glenbeigh, Kerry.

They would often be sighted off the coast of Greenland which is likely where these two have originated, according to Seal Rescue Ireland (SRI)

The large adult male Hooded seal was healthy and measured over two metres in length and appeared to weigh over 300kg.

First spotted on 1st January, volunteers kept an eye on him, ensuring he wasn’t bothered by people, and he then returned to the water on the afternoon of 2nd January.

A spokeswoman for SRI said: “This young ringed seal pup was found on 2nd January and was estimated to be between only 3 – 4 weeks old as it still had a partially moulted lanugo coat (white fur) which means it was not fully weaned yet and had been separated from its mum prematurely.

“The pup was alert and feisty but was under its ideal weight for its age. Unfortunately, before a rescue attempt could be carried out the pup slipped back into the water and swam away. We can only hope that it is able to fend well enough for itself, or that it might show up elsewhere and be reported to us again.

“Two arctic species turning up over a matter of days does raise questions as to why. It’s not completely unheard of for rare seals to visit our waters, with at least five cases now of Hooded seals, and other sightings over the years of Bearded seals and even Walrus.

“There have been no recorded sightings of ringed seals here to our knowledge until this little one yesterday, though they are occasionally seen in Scotland so it’s highly likely they could visit us here too and slip under the radar.”

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