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Grey Seal At Capstone Point

Chris Blackmore is a member of Sea Watch, and is always out spotting seals and porpoises, along with our other curious coastal marine life! Join us as we find out more about his surprising sightings.

As Regional Coordinators and volunteers with the Sea Watch Foundation since 2005, my wife Sharron and I regularly carry out marine life watches from Capstone Point. We mainly record harbour porpoises, the UK’s most common cetacean. However we’ve also recorded bottlenose and common dolphins, ocean sunfish and even a young humpback whale just 2 years ago! Grey seals are often seen as well and this encounter was in January this year.

We were about 50 feet above the sea at Windy Corner when this lady popped up with a ray. She knew we were there as she looked directly at us, so we just stood still and watched. She stayed at the surface for about 10 minutes, glancing at us occasionally. As a rule, if a seal looks at you you’re too close, but she felt safe in her own element and perceived that we weren’t a threat.

Now for the interesting bit. You can see from the next photo that she has distinct patterning on her coat, which is as unique to seals as our fingerprints are to us.

The Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust have a database of photos of seals which they name according to the patterns on their coats and are able, through photos sent in to them, to track the movement of seals around our coasts. I’ve been adding photos to this database for a few years now, so sent these photos in and got a very quick reply back.

Please meet MPF195, “White starfish, black C”. She was first recorded in 2012 and regular sightings have all been in North Devon. However she was only seen twice in 2020 and once in 2021 and 2022. We’ll be keeping an eye out for her!

Chris Blackmore, 2023.

If you liked this article and want to learn more about Sea Watch Foundation or get in touch with Chris, you can reach him at this email address:


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