Thousands of grey seals mob tiny Isle of May

There are around 8,000 seals on the tiny island at this time of year. Picture: David Steel
There are around 8,000 seals on the tiny island at this time of year. Picture: David Steel
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A tiny island off the coast of Fife has been mobbed by thousands of grey seals and their pups.

The 110-acre Isle of May is a vital breeding site for the marine animals and supports one of the largest grey seal colonies in the UK, with 2,500 pups born annually between September and December.

A grey seal with her pup. The Isle of May is a vital breeding ground for the marine animals. Picture: David Steel

A grey seal with her pup. The Isle of May is a vital breeding ground for the marine animals. Picture: David Steel

There are approximately 8,000 seals living on the island at this time of year.

David Steel, Isle of May reserve manager for Scottish Natural Heritage, told our sister paper the i that for the rest of the year, the seals are found in much smaller numbers of up to 500 and stay mainly on rocky outcrops away from people.

Numbers start rising from mid-September with the birth rate peaking in mid-November, before the pups and their parents move back into the sea and are all gone by mid-January.

“Mothers utilise all beaches, coves and gullies across the island and have even adapted to pupping on the main jetty,” he said.

“We once left our front door open and when we returned from a day’s work, we discovered a seal sleeping on the floor in our bathroom. He was soon reunited with the outside world.”

The Isle of May is owned and managed as a National Nature Reserve and as such, is closed to visitors between October and Easter to protect the large number of seals that take up residence in every nook and cranny they can find.

Two live cameras on the island allow for close-up viewing of the thriving wildlife, which in summer also includes over 200,000 nesting seabirds of fourteen species from puffins and razorbills to oystercatchers, eider ducks and gull.

• This article originally appeared on our sister site inews.co.uk