The faces of five male seals in Scarborough are being examined for guilty expressions…following news of a surprise birth.
One of the five resident male common seals at Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary has confounded medical science by becoming a dad.
In spite of being on contraceptives last summer when a temporary guest at the Sanctuary, female Tyne has just astonished her keepers at a sister Sea Life in Hunstanton, Norfolk by producing a healthy pup.
“She was one of four females staying with us after the Hunstanton centre was destroyed by storm floods,” explained displays supervisor Lyndsey Crawford.
“She must have found some way of discarding her contraceptive even though it was tucked inside a tasty fish, because it’s clear her pup was conceived around last July, more than two months before she went home.”
Former Scarborough aquarist Natalie Emerson thought Tyne must be ill when she hauled out of her Hunstanton pool late in the evening and lay breathing very heavily.
“She had been off her food for a few days and we were concerned about her,” said Natalie. “We never suspected she was pregnant, but as I watched her anxiously she gave birth right in front of me.
“I feel really privileged to have witnessed such an amazing and happy event.”
Hunstanton’s solitary male Pendle is only two years old and not sexually mature…so the finger of suspicion is pointing at Scarborough males Bruno, Mando, Bubbles, Ed and Herbie.
“Only a DNA test would solve the mystery,” said Lyndsey, “but since that would only be needed if we planned a breeding programme, it probably won’t be done.”
Meanwhile in Hunstanton Tyne is being a model mum.
“She is suckling her pup regularly, escorting it on swims around the pool and being very protective,” said Natalie. “The other residents are curious, but Tyne won’t let them get too close.”
The birth has also provided an unexpected bonus for visitors however, who can see Tyne and her pup from the seal viewing walkway adjacent to the enclosure and when they’re in the pool even watch through an underwater window.