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17 September 2014
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Islands - Monach Isles


Seal pup

The Monachs comprise a four mile strip of low lying islands in the Outer Hebrides. This beautiful, remote location is home to a very special nature spectacle - thousands of Grey Seals and their pups.

Monach Isles - one of the best seal watching spots in Britain


The Monach Islands with their sandy beaches and sandy dunes are beautiful and remote.

The islands were once inhabited by about 100 people who raised livestock, but in the 1940s the area was abandoned.

In stormy weather the islands can be inaccessible due to Atlantic gales, and visitors may have to wait until it's a calm day.

Seal sensations

Seal pupThe Monach Islands promise a fantastic wildlife watching experience.

Its colony of breeding Grey Seals is the largest in Europe and one of the biggest in the world.

The population of Grey Seals swells in the autumn to 35,000 as seals from other areas congregate to pup.

The males are the first to arrive and the first task they perform is herd the females into harems and these beach masters will then try and hold their territory against all comers.

The fights between the male bulls can be vicious and bloody.

Up to 9,000 seals are born on the islands, and October is the best time to see this natural spectacle.

Watch out for the female seals or cows suckling their young calves - their mother's milk contains 60% fat.

The calves can double their weight in just one week as a result of this high fat diet.

By the end of the lactation period the calves are about three times heavier than when they were born.

If you're lucky, you might see the calves swimming with their mothers in the waters around the island.

Also look out for the male seals or bulls who can get involved in ferocious fighting to defend their harems.

 

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