Obviously, we are blessed to live so close to a beautiful coastline and it’s no great surprise to discover that some of the best local wildlife experiences involves sea creatures.
Recently, I wrote about dolphin watching and this week I would like to talk about seals - grey seals to be precise.
I’ve spotted seals on numerous occasions around the area. Down at Preston beach was a particularly memorable occasion; on an autumnal high tide, with people hurrying along the front desperately trying to avoid getting drenched by the pounding waves, I suddenly spotted a head pop up, unbelievably close to the protective sea wall.
He bobbed up and down, spy-hopping, curiously watching the coming and goings of the humans onshore.
Another time I spotted an equally curious seal was close to Paignton’s Harbour Light restaurant. Once again, this animal seemed fascinated by the humans passing obliviously by.
And, of course, there’s Brixham’s famous ‘Sammy the Seal’ who could often be spotted lounging near the Brixham Marina office.
It has to be said that most of my sightings have come about in the autumn and spring, however recently we visited Brownstone Battery not far from Coleton Fishacre and this was where I heard, for the very first time, grey seals ‘singing’!
This is something I had often read about but never actually experienced.
As we approached the World War Two defences, over and over again wafted a low mournful sound that sounded quite eerie.
However, the serenading ‘sirens’ weren’t the mythical creatures that lured sailors to their death with the sweetness of the song; no, these somewhat porky Pavarottis were grey seals lazing in the warm sunshine at the rocky base of the Mew Stone.
Sadly, it seems, not everyone is mesmerised by our beautiful seals. A few weeks ago, a video taken in Torquay of a man throwing a bottle at a seal went around social media.
The Seal Project said this wasn’t an isolated case and that it had received ‘numerous reports of this aggressive behaviour recently’.
What a sad indictment of our times.
To learn more please follow the Torbay-based ‘The Seal Project’ on Facebook.