If you are looking for a unique and memorable experience on your visit to the Aran Islands, you should not miss the opportunity to see the Seal Colony on Inis Mór (Inishmore), the largest of the three islands. Here, you can observe the grey seals, one of Ireland’s native and protected species, as they sunbathe on the rocks or swim in the clear water. 

The Seal Colony Viewing Point is located on the northern side of Inis Mór, close to Kilmurvey Beach, on the road to Dún Aonghasa, the famous prehistoric fort. It is about 7 km from Kilronan, the main village and port of the island, where you can arrive by ferry from Galway or Doolinm or plane from Connemara. You can rent a bike, take a bus tour, or hire a horse and cart to explore the island and reach the viewing point. The seal colony is clearly signposted with a small cabin selling snacks at the site. There are also picnic tables where you can enjoy your lunch with a stunning view of the seals and the mountains of Connemara in the background.

The best time to see the seals is at low tide, when they tend to congregate on the beach and rocks to rest and warm up. You can check the tide times online or ask at your accommodation or bike rental place. At high tide, you might still see some seals swimming in the water, but they will be harder to spot. You can also bring binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens to get a better view of these graceful creatures. The seal colony is open all year round, but you might see more seals during spring and summer, when they shed their fur and spend more time on land.

The grey seal (Rón Glas in Irish) is one of two seal species found in Ireland, along with the common seal. They are also known as the Atlantic seal and they are one of the world’s rarest seals, with Ireland hosting half of Europe’s population. The grey seal is large and powerful, with males reaching up to 3.3 m long and 300 kg in weight, and females up to 2 m long and 150 kg in weight. They have a grey or brown fur with blotches of lighter or darker shades. They feed mainly on fish such as salmon and pollock, which they hunt during high tide. They can dive up to 60 m deep and hold their breath for up to 30 minutes.

The grey seals breed between September and December, usually in remote and undisturbed areas. The females give birth to one pup each year, which has a white coat that it sheds after six weeks. The mother stays with the pup until it is weaned, while the male defends its territory from other males. The pups learn to swim and fish by themselves after leaving their mothers. The grey seals have a life expectancy of up to 25 years.

The grey seal is a protected species in Ireland since 1976, as it was threatened by hunting for its meat and fur in the past. Nowadays, they face other challenges such as pollution, fishing nets, disease, and habitat loss. They are also sometimes seen as competitors by fishermen, as they can damage their nets and eat their catch. However, they also play an important role in the marine ecosystem, as they are indicators of water quality and prey for other animals such as sharks and killer whales.

Seals have a long and complex relationship with islanders, who have admired them for their beauty and intelligence, but also feared them for their strength and appetite. Seals have been part of many legends and stories in Irish culture, especially those involving selkies, mythical beings that can transform from seal to human form by shedding their skin. According to some tales, selkies could fall in love with humans and marry them, but they would always long for their true home in the sea. The Oscar-nominated Irish animated movie ‘Song of the Sea’ (2014) is based on this folklore.

Seals have also been a source of food and clothing for islanders in times of scarcity. They were hunted for their meat and fur until the 1950s, when laws were introduced to protect them. Some islanders still have a special bond with seals, as they can recognize individual animals by their markings and personalities. They also respect their space and avoid disturbing them, especially during the breeding season. They appreciate the value of seals as a tourist attraction and a natural heritage.

Seals are fascinating creatures that have adapted to live both on land and in water. Here are some interesting facts about them:

– The grey seal (Rón Glas in Irish) is one of two seal species found in Ireland. The other one is the common seal (Rón Mor in Irish).
– Grey seals are larger than common seals and have longer noses and more spotted fur.

– Grey seals can grow up to 3.3 meters long and weigh up to 300 kilograms. They can live up to 25 years in the wild.

– Grey seals can dive up to 60 meters deep and hold their breath for up to 30 minutes. They have excellent vision and hearing underwater, but they also use their whiskers to sense vibrations and currents.

– Grey seals feed mainly on fish, such as salmon and pollock, but they also eat squid, octopus, crabs, and lobsters. They can consume up to 5 kilograms of food per day.

– Grey seals breed between September and December, usually in remote and undisturbed areas. The females give birth to a single pup that has a white coat that sheds after six weeks. The mothers stay with the pups until they are weaned, which takes about three weeks.

– Grey seals are social animals that form colonies of up to hundreds of individuals. They communicate with each other using a variety of sounds, such as grunts, barks, moans, and wails.

– Grey seals are protected by law in Ireland and Europe, as they are one of the rarest seal species in the world. Ireland hosts about half of the European population of grey seals, which is estimated at around 40,000.

The seal colony at Inis Mór Island is a wonderful attraction and is a rare opportunity to see these magnificent marine mammals in their natural habitat and to learn more about their behavior and ecology.


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Seal Colony at Inis Mor



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