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  • Foca en Zoo Aquarium de Madrid
  • Foca en Zoo Aquarium de Madrid
  • Foca gris en Zoo Aquarium Madrid. Zoológico Madrid.
  • Foca gris en Zoo Aquarium Madrid. Zoológico Madrid.

Common name:

Grey seal

Scientific name:

Halichoerus grypus


150 - 300 kg


1,8 - 2,3 m
Oceans and seas
North America


Preocupación menor
Least concern
Who is it? 

The body of the Gray Seal is elongated and fusiform, it is adapted to swimming and lacks external ears, although it does have ears (two small holes located on both sides of the head), unlike the sea lion. The characteristics of the gray seal include its limbs, which have been transformed into flippers. The front fins serve as a rudder while the rear ones propel them (in the water), while the sea lions propel themselves with the front ones. On land they move more clumsily, although there are species that move at high speed, crawling, unlike sea lions, which can move on all fours, in quadrupeds, since the insertion of the femur at the hip is different. The males, with darker hair, are considerably larger than the females. They have nails on both the hind and forelimbs, unlike sea lions that only have the hind limbs.

Their range is basically the North Atlantic, and they inhabit islands and rocky coasts, caves, sandy beaches and compact ice.

What are its habits?

They are solitary animals that only meet during the breeding season, where they have their cubs and mate. In September, the arrival of pregnant females to the breeding areas begins, days before the males. After the suckling period, the female grey seal goes into heat and forms a pair; mating occurs at the beginning of November, but the blastocysts are only implanted in the uterus in February. This helps the female to have a long time to recover from the energy outlay involved in gestation and suckling. During the two periods of the life cycle which occur on land (moulting and birth-mating), they observe a strict fast.

Their feeding habits are piscivorous, they are great divers and they eat a great variety of fish.

Did you know…

The only natural predators of the grey seal are killer whales and sharks. However, some species are threatened by the excessive hunting of the human being, to take advantage of their hair and their skins.

They are animals that are easily seen on certain coasts, if you see any, it is important that you do not try to put them in the water, especially in the case of the cubs.


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