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Arctic ‘Bearded’ Seal In West Cork Baffles Experts

7th August 2017
The bearded seal has allegedly taken up residence at the Timoleague estuary for the last two months The bearded seal has allegedly taken up residence at the Timoleague estuary for the last two months Photo: Shearwater Wildlife Tours/Facebook

#MarineWildlife - Wildlife watchers have been baffled by the sighting of an Arctic seal in West Cork, as the Irish Examiner reports.

Bearded seals, marked by their pale pelt and distinctive long whiskers, are usually found between the far north of Canada, Greenland and the Russian Arctic.

But as photographed in recent days by Shearwater Wildlife Tours, one appears to have taken up residence in the much milder climes of Timoleague, near Courtmacsherry in West Cork.

And it’s been suggested in comments that the heavyweight seal has been living in the area for at least the last two months.

It marks only the second recorded sighting of this marine mammal species in Ireland, the other being a female in distress who was nursed back to health in Galway in 2002, according to Shearwater’s Paul Connaughton, who is also chair of Birdwatch Ireland’s West Cork branch.

Others have been found in the Scotland’s Shetland and Orkney Islands, but fewer than 20 are on record.

Now experts are speculating as to whether melting sea ice in their Arctic home is prompting these seals to seek refuge further south.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

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