There are 33 species of seal world-wide, two of which live around Britain.
Scotland is an important breeding area for grey seals.
The grey seal population is estimated to be increasing by seven per cent a year.
Neither grey seals nor common seals are an endangered species.
Grey seals are larger than common seals, and have a distinctive profile.
Unlike whales and dolphins, seals give birth on land.
Seals are insulated from the cold by a thick layer of blubber.
Grey seals mate on land, but common seals usually mate in water.
Seals have sensitive whiskers that help them to detect prey in murky waters.
As soon as a pup is born, its mother forms a bond with it by smelling and calling to it.
Grey seals have been known to live for 46 years.
Some seal species have been hunted almost to extinction in some parts of the world.
In 1988 phocine distemper virus killed about 33 per cent of all common seals in the North Sea.
Oil spills are thought to cause breathing problems in seals, as well as damage to ears, nose and throat.
Seals are wild animals if approached too closely they will bite.
Grey seals were protected as early as 1914 when the Grey Seals Protection Act made it unlawful to kill seals between 1 October and 15 December each year, and never at Haskeir in the Hebrides. The Act was originally intended to protect seals for five years until the population had begun to increase, but it was then extended. Common seals were not protected, and in the 1960s, between 1,000 and 1,200 were killed each year in Scotland.
The Conservation of Seals Act 1970 made it unlawful to kill either grey or common seals during their breeding seasons (Grey seal close season – 1 September – 31 December; common seal close season – 1 June – 31 August) and limited the kinds of weapons that could be used to kill them at other times. In 1973, a special Order of the Conservation of Seals Act was passed which protects common seals in the Shetland Islands all year round.
source : gettyimages,snh.org.uk,wikipedia