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Changing times

Duration: 02:29

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.

Available since: Fri 12 Feb 2010


Samuel WEST
Camera Operator
Camera Operator
Manuel HINGE
Camera Operator
Camera Operator
Camera Operator
Camera Operator
Camera Operator
Warwick SLOSS
Camera Operator

This clip is from

Battle of the Sexes - In the Animal World THE RIDDLE OF SEX

6/6 films examining the sexual behaviour of animals.Examines the reasons for sex,how some species have abolished it whilst for others it ensures survival

First broadcast: 05 Feb 1999

Image for THE RIDDLE OF SEX Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

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