A pair of gray seal pups on the Farne Islands, off the coast of
Northumberland in England, ia suspected of being the first ever twins
born to a gray seal mother in the wild. Scientists hope to confirm the momentous
event through DNA. They were finally able to get close enough to samples
earlier this month.
The pups were born in late October, are both male, and are now well on their way to becoming fully independent animals. The scientists are fairly certain that the pups are twins since the mother had been hanging out on a secluded beach by herself prior to and just after giving birth. While it is physiologically possible for gray seals to have twins, the mother is likely to spontaneously abort the extra pup since it is difficult for her to have the resources to feed more than one baby.
If it does turn out that these guys are twins, it will be the first documented case in the wild. With more than 1,500 new pups being born to this seal colony, it has been a big year for the population in the Farnes.
Gray seals are not an endangered species, but their populations have been threatened in the past when bounties were paid on them to keep them from over-feeding on fish populations that humans also draw from. Now that the populations are recovering, some fishermen are calling for culling the current population to keep it from getting too large.