Seal Facts and Information

Did You Know This About Seals?

The seal, the adorable dog of the sea! Despite the name “seal,” it is quite a different animal from the land-based variant we know. Many people know little about this sea creature that often swims at a great distance. On Texel, you can see them up close, so learn more about the animals before you come to Texel, and you can chat with the Texel visitors.

The Different Types of Seals

There are two types of seals in the Netherlands: the common seal and the grey seal. These two species have different physical characteristics, behavior patterns, and habitats. The common seal is generally smaller in size, with a short snout and round head, while the grey seal is larger, with a longer snout and a more cone-shaped head. They also differ in their habitat preferences, with the common seal often found in coastal waters, while the grey seal prefers rocky shores and remote islands. Both species can be spotted along the Texel coast.

Excellent Swimmers

Adults can reach speeds of up to 35 km/h. Young seals are a bit slower. Their streamlined bodies, powerful limbs, and flexible spines enable them to move smoothly through the water and accelerate quickly when needed, making them efficient hunters. They use their front and hind flippers to steer and maneuver, while their rear flippers act as rudders to maintain direction while swimming. These swimming skills are essential for their survival, both for finding food and avoiding predators.

Staying Underwater for Long Periods

Seals are mammals and must come to the surface to breathe. They can stay underwater for up to 20 minutes, depending on the species. This unique adaptation allows them to hunt for prey such as fish and squid for extended periods underwater, while they need to surface intermittently to breathe. Underwater, a seal’s nostrils close, and breathing is controlled by a conscious process, using their muscles to expel air from the lungs and then inhale when they surface.

Found All Over the World

Seals are found in waters worldwide, from the cold Arctic waters to the warmer waters around the equator. While some species prefer specific habitats, such as the sea ice of the Arctic region or the rocky coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, others are more versatile in their distribution and can be found in various marine environments, from coastal waters to deeper oceans. Around Texel, seals can be found everywhere. Seal spotting along the coast of Texel often occurs at the Texel sandbanks, where large numbers are sunbathing, sometimes mothers with their pups. Research has shown that seals often return to the same spot annually, monitored by GPS systems tracking their swimming routes.

How They Communicate

Seals communicate with each other through various sounds, including barking, growling, and snorting. These vocalizations are used for different purposes, such as attracting a mate, warning of danger, marking territory, and maintaining social bonds within a group. Each type of sound has its meaning and can vary depending on the situation and context in which it is used. Seals have a well-developed vocal repertoire and can produce a wide range of sounds, from soft squeaks and cries to loud, hoarse calls.

How Old They Get

Seals have an average life expectancy of 20 to 30 years, depending on the species. Common seals typically live up to about 25 years, while grey seals can live up to 35 years. The age seals reach depends on factors such as food availability, predation, and human influences. In the wild, seals often do not live as long as in captivity, where they are protected from diseases and natural predators.

Skin with a Thick Layer of Fat

Like many other large marine animals, seals have a thick layer of fat, known as blubber, which helps them stay warm in cold waters and serves as an energy reserve during periods of food scarcity. This blubber layer is a crucial adaptation for marine mammals living in cold oceans, as it protects them from hypothermia and provides the necessary energy to survive during times when food is scarce. This fat layer is built up by eating high-fat food, such as fish and marine mammals, and is gradually broken down when they are active or food is scarce.

A Threatened and Protected Species

Despite being abundant around Texel, seals face various threats such as habitat loss, pollution, and entanglement in fishing nets. To ensure their survival, many seal populations are protected by national and international laws. Despite these protection measures, some populations remain threatened.

Seal Rescue on Texel at Ecomare

Ecomare on Texel takes in sick, injured, and orphaned seals. Most are admitted due to illnesses such as lungworm infections, injuries from entanglement in fishing nets, or because they have lost their mother as young pups. Upon arrival, they receive medical care and a thorough examination. They are treated with medication and cared for until they recover sufficiently. The recovery process takes place in special pools where they receive the right nutrition and care. Once they are strong enough, they are released back into the Wadden Sea or North Sea.

Education and Awareness

Ecomare Texel plays an important role in raising awareness about seals and marine conservation. You can learn about seal ecology, the threats they face, and the work of the rescue center. The center offers exhibitions and tours that provide insight into the lives of these and other marine animals. If you are on vacation on Texel, it is definitely worth a visit.

So, have you learned something new? Now that you know more about seals, you are all set for an exciting seal-watching trip on Texel!
Call us for more information or book your tickets directly online. We look forward to welcoming you and showing you these beautiful animals up close.

If you want to read more, we have an overview of activities on Texel and what to do in Oudeschild, so you know what to do after your boattrip and can stay in the area.