Thousands of grey seals mob tiny Isle of May

A tiny island off the coast of Fife has been mobbed by thousands of grey seals and their pups.

There are around 8,000 seals on the tiny island at this time of year. Picture: David Steel

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.

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

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

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.

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

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.

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

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