LIVE WEBCAM WITH GREY SEALS PUPPING
By the late 1960s, the grey seal population had plummetted and gray seals in New England were confined to a handful of isolated colonies and seeing one was rare. Grey seals were perceived as an unwanted, predatory pest that had a negative impact on other, more desirable species such as cod. Threats from humans, storms, sharks, disease, oils spills and boat strikes added to the demise of grey seals. Seal island was actually used by the Navy as a bombing target from the 1940s until the early 1960s leaving a legacy of pockmarks in the granite and a scattering of unexploded ordnance which is why the island remains closed to the public.
The rescue of grey seals was the result of the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act after which, the island became a part of the federal Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge and is now managed collaboratively by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Audubon Society.
Currently, gray seals breed at two sites in Maine - Green Island, near Petit Manan and Seal Island. Grey seals are capital breeders; they forage to build up stored blubber, which they then live off whilst breeding and weaning their pups. Female grey seals give birth to a single pup every year and it is the female who provides all parental care. The seal pups are born in January to February. The pups rapidly fatten on the extremely rich mothers milk and undergo a post-weaning fast before leaving land and learning to swim. Within a month or so they shed their pup fur, grow dense waterproof adult fur, and leave for the sea to learn to fish for themselves.