Take a look at these photos taken by seal warden and committee member, Hilda, on 13th December. We are constantly told that female seals give birth to only one pup (per year), they do not tolerate a pup belonging to another seal coming into their ‘territory’, and will not feed a pup that is not their own. So the question is, are the pups in the photos, twins, or is the mother showing the true spirit of Christmas by helping out another mum?
Careful examination of the photos shows a difference in the colour and size of the pups – the partially hidden pup is whiter than the one in front and appears fatter. Notice the slightly creamier colour of the front pup, which tells us it is no more than a day or two old. The fluffy coat is cream coloured at birth but gets whiter over the first few days – therefore they are unlikely to be from a twin birth. The extra fat on the pup at the back shows this one has had a few days feeding.
We think the mother is being tolerant of the second pup, but the photos don’t actually show the larger one suckling. If it did suckle, and Hilda might have had a better view and could confirm that, then it’s certainly unusual behaviour – or the milk of seal kindness!