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Record Number of Gray Seal Babies on Helgoland
By Wendy Heller, January 8, 2008 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
Source: Spiegel.de

The births are yet one more sign that the gray seal is back.

It's not hard to find them. Often, all it takes is a stroll down a remote Northern European beach and you'll see a couple dozen scattered about. With males tipping the scales at around 220 kilograms, there are also quite difficult to miss.

And lately, especially on the island of Helgoland in the North Sea, sightings are becoming ever more frequent. The island, part of Germany, has seen a profusion of Atlantic gray seal babies this year, more than ever before. Fully 55 of the furry white creatures have entered the world on Helgoland's sandy shores this year. Last year, there were just 32 gray seal births there and 27 the year before that.

"The females tend to come back to their birth places when they are ready to give birth," Rolf Blädel, who is responsible for environmental protection on the island of Helgoland, told SPIEGEL ONLINE, explaining the increase. "Next year I wouldn't be surprised if there were 100 babies. There is certainly plenty of room for them."

There is also a renewed acceptance of the animals, which are Northern Europe's biggest predators.

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