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Page 19 - Breeding Behaviour of the Grey Seal off the Coast of Cape Breton

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1972/10/31 (828 reads)

by the animal rolls completely over, describing usually an arc of a circle since the' body is somewhat spindle-shaped. Sometiraes only a "half-roll" is performed and this is all the cows have been observed to do. On the Basque Islands, the complete roll was observed only in bulls in possession of territories. The exact signifi- canse of the roll has not been determined, but in many cases it appears to be an overt demonstration of victory on the part of. the bull who has been successful in warding off an intruding male or in overcoming a rival in actual combat. Copulation On February 10, at 9,15 a,m,, when the tide was rising and approaching the high- tide mark, a young bull drew up beside a coxv who was lying half in and half out of the water in such a way that the waves were just washing over her back. The bull drew closer and began caressing her head and neck with his snout; she re? sponded by occasionally rubbing the tip of her snout along the side of his head. At 9,22 she slid back into the water to a point where only her head and a small part of her back were above the waterline. The bull moved into deeper water with her and resumed the caressing;occasionally she would nip at him with her mouth wide open. At 9,27 the cow moved farther from the shore into deeper water and completely submerged for a few seconds. When she emerged, only a part of her head was vi? sible. The bull then moved across and directly above and slightly behind her so that the tip of his snout lay just above her eyes. She was now so low in the water that the waves were washing over the top of her head and sometimes she sub? merged completely for periods up to a minute or more. The bull's head and upper back were out of the water. At intervals he moved his snout from one side of her head to the other, although his head was usually situated to the right of hers. From 9.31 to 10.06 the two remained almost motionless, the only movement being that of the bull changing the position of his head in relation to hers. They ap? peared 'oblivious to the other seals coming and going up and doivn the beach and swimming in the water nearby. At 10.06 a strange bull appeared, approaching from the sea, and swam to within 3 yards of the pair. At first he, too, was ignored, but when he came within a yard of them, the pair parted and the copulating bull turned aggressively towards the stranger, who immediately moved out to sea and disappeared. The pair who had been copulating then moved up onto the shore and lay side by side in such a position that the waves washed over their hind flippers. They caressed each other from time to time;otherwise they remained oerfectly motion-

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