The Isle of Man has beautiful countryside, picturesque beaches and plenty of historic castles and railways – but Greg can talk about some of those at a later date! Today I’m writing about wildlife… again.
On the Isle of Man’s most southern point, close to the Calf of Man Island, is a small section of water and a rocky islet which is populated year round by seals, and our trip to the Isle of Man took place in October 2019, which coincided with grey seal mating season (September- December).
The grey seal is the more common of the two species of seal found in Manx waters (they also get small numbers of common seals), and as around half of the global population of grey seals are found around the British coast, it should have been no surprise that we saw plenty in a place which is famous for them.
Grey seals’ hands and feet are formed into webbed flippers. They use their strong rear flippers to propel themselves through the water, while using their tail to steer. They have powerful shoulders which enable them to haul themselves onto steep and slippery rocks, which we witnessed during our visit (and which you can watch out for towards the end of our video, ‘The Isle of Man – Railways, Castles and Seals‘).
Their adorable faces look almost comical or cartoonish with their big, dark eyes which while good for seeing in dark, murky water, it is in fact their very discreet but highly sensitive ears which are most important to the seals for catching their dinner.
Their scientific name, Halichoerus grypus adds to their comical effect as it derives from the Greek for ‘hook-nosed sea pig’. It doesn’t exactly paint a flattering picture for what I consider to be an adorable creature.
The Sound has a fantastic view, not just of the seals but also looking out over the Calf of Man island, and its cafe with its famous wall of panoramic viewing windows, serving warm, tasty, vegetarian-friendly food options… it was too good a place for us to only visit it once. I would have happily visited every day to watch the seals. As it was I think we visited on at least three of our five available days on the Isle of Man.
The Isle of Man is not just a hot spot for seals – during warmer months you can also see basking sharks, whales and dolphins in the surrounding waters. There are also plenty of coastal birds and one of my favourites, the puffin, can be found on the Calf of Man during the right season.
Apparently in the north of the Isle of Man they even have wild wallabies though you have to be very lucky to spot them!
For anyone that likes beautiful, coastal, rugged, countryside views and adorable wildlife (plus tasty food of course), The Sound and its cafe will not disappoint.