Changing times

This is the remote island of North Rona off the coast of Scotland - it's a cold and windy place. During the early winter months female grey seals gather to come ashore. They are heavily pregnant. The bulls wait for them to land and jealously guard them. After the female has produced her pup, it isn't long before she comes into season - liberating male aggression. The victors of these fights are who the females want. But often copulation is without the female's consent and she is raped by a sore loser. And yet things are changing, even for these stalwarts of mammal breeding behaviour. Some grey seals have recently been discovered, who have opted out of the rough and tumble of the colony. Some males have never fought because they are paired to particular cows, whom they've been with for several years. Each year the female looks for her mate away from the main harems where there’s a lot of tension and disturbance. For these pairs, monogamy pays - he’s not a top bull but at least he gets a mate - and she avoids being raped by defeated males who are usually only left with that option. These seals settle for peace and quiet, and both do quite well.

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3 minutes


Role Contributor
ProducerJohn SPARKS
NarratorSamuel WEST
Camera OperatorDoug ALLAN
Camera OperatorManuel HINGE
Camera OperatorPaul JOHNSON
Camera OperatorPeter PARKS
Camera OperatorNeil RETTIG
Camera OperatorTim SHEPHERD
Camera OperatorWarwick SLOSS
Camera OperatorSimon WAGEN

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