Seals - Blaskets are the Grey Seal capital of Ireland
The Blasket Islands are the grey seal capital of Ireland [probably more than on the Inishkea Islands, Co. Mayo] and seals come from as far away as Scotland and the British Isles to breed around the Blaskets in late summer and early Autumn and stay for the winter and into early summer.
Most then disperse but for the last few years a resident population has stayed around the Blaskets.
The Great Blasket Island is an E.U. designated S.A.C. [ Special Area of Conservation] with special reference to grey seals, sea caves and upland heath.
seal mother and pup
seal on rock
tra ban with grey seals
During the winter up to 1000 seals can be seen hauled up on the White Strand – An Trá Bán – and in late Sept. / Oct. all the coves and gravel beaches on Beginish are full of white furry seal pups and their mothers.
Each bull seal has his own herd and unsuccessful bachelor seals haul out together at different locations. On most of our trips during the summer we can more or less guarantee to show you grey seals, and once they become used to the movement of our boat and we stay a distance away from them, you can view them as they stretch back on their favourite rocks and scratch their bellies!
They are also fascinating to watch as they bob around in the water looking at you with their big brown eyes.
Some people say they are the original animal which gave rise to the idea of a mermaid and there is an old tradition in many maritime areas especially in Scotland [where some of our seals come from] that they are the reincarnation of fishermen lost at sea and they are called “silkies”.
When the islands were inhabited seals were hunted for their skins and meat, but in particular for oil obtained from the thick blubber under their skins which was used for simple lights by inserting a wick or rush into an oil filled jug, and the oil was also reputed to be good as a rub for rheumatism and even as “sauce” on potatoes.
Now that we have electricity and tomato sauce the seal population is thriving