The Jersey Seal Project



There is archaeological evidence for the presence of seals in the Channel Islands from several thousand years ago. There is then a hiatus in seal history between such prehistoric records and those of the late 19th century when there are a number of records of sightings - seals were even occasionally captured. The Jersey language has several words for seal and there are a few references to seals in local place names.

The number of seals locally at any time may be quite small, at least relative to the world population. The latitude of the islands is near the limit of the southerly range of the grey seal.

The Société Jersiaise Bulletins have from time to time reported seal sightings - the first record was in 1938 but until recently seals have generally been regarded as “occasional”. There are records from the other Channels Islands and from adjacent French coasts.


JerseySeals© concludes that it is probable that the great majority of seals sighted in the Channel Islands are Grey Seals. However the presence of the Harbour Seal cannot be ruled out and there are reports of the Harbour Seal nearby in the Baie de Mont Saint Michel. Further, JerseySeals regards that the notion of seals as “occasional” may merit review. The number of sightings during the study period 1999 and 2000 and the numbers of animals seen then no longer fits with “occasional”. JerseySeals preliminary effort related data indicates that seals were sighted overall on 98% of dedicated observation days - this suggests that the Grey Seal as a species is resident in Jersey waters.



Code of conduct for Seal watchers


  • Use binoculars for seal watching - you’ll see more and won’t disturb the seals.

  • If you see a seal in the sea - slow down to “no-wake” speed. Please remember that seals are wild animals and can be aggressive to snorkelers and divers. The sea is their territory.

  • Keep to a slow steady boat speed and course. Do not chase the seal – let the seal approach you. They are inquisitive animals but are easily frightened by careless boat handling.

  • Do not approach hauled out seals. If in a boat keep more than 50m away.

  • Never approach a seal on land. Do not try to touch a seal - even seal pups can be dangerous.

  • If you see a seal pup on its own please leave it. Mothers often leave their pups alone for hours while they search for food. If the seal pup is still alone after a 24 hr period alert JerseySeals who can then monitor its well-being.





































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C. Medder1990/2015©