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An eye on remote seal pups

Last modified: 04 November 2014

Grey seal

Image: RSPB - Ben Andrew

People across the globe can tune in to watch grey seals being born on two of Orkney's islands this autumn, RSPB Scotland announced today.

Each year, since it was created by the Sanday Ranger in 2012, the Sanday Seal Cam has allowed people to get some amazing views of seals. Now viewers can see double the action thanks to a camera installed on the uninhabited island of Copinsay. 

The Copinsay camera is the latest in a number of cameras installed by RSPB Scotland’s Enjoy Wild Orkney Project to allow viewers to see wild places that are difficult to get to or wildlife that is easily disturbed.

The Copinsay camera aims to showcase the wildlife that visits or lives on the island throughout the year. It currently has its eye on a secluded bay and over the coming months the beach will fill with grey seals as they come ashore to breed. Two thousand seals visit Copinsay to breed each year and viewers will get the chance to watch the antics of the adult seals and their fluffy white offspring throughout this important time and to experience close views of some fascinating behaviour.

Anne Bignall, who is part of the Enjoy Wild Orkney team, said: 'We’ve already seen some remarkable things including a number of births live on air. We hope that the combination of these cameras will allow people to experience and appreciate the wealth of wonderful wildlife found on Orkney’s islands, even if they can’t get here themselves.'

Grey seals are much bigger and bulkier than common seals; they have longer, horse-like heads and tend to live in wilder places. They give birth to a single white-coated pup in an autumn pupping season that lasts from late September to mid-December. 

The pups are not skilled swimmers from birth, unlike common seals that are born in June and July and look like the adults straight away. Orkney is important for grey seals; about 25,000 individuals - almost 10 per cent of the world population - live there.

You can watch both cameras at once by visiting www.orkneynaturefestival.org or www.sandayranger.co.uk and find out more about the RSPB Scotland’s work in Orkney by visiting www.rspb.org.uk/Orkney and www.facebook.com/RSPBOrkney.

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