The Mating Habits of the Common or Harbour Seal

2 Conversations

Now why on earth would anyone write a Guide Entry about

the reproductive practices of Phoca Vitulina? Well, as it

happens, a significant number of Researchers have both

begged for an insight into Pinniped's legendary success

with the ladies. Readers are warned that this piece

contains quite a lot of grunting and heaving blubber, plus

a few sharp bites.

OK, listen up you lot. Loads of turgid, wordy, academic

stuff has been written on the mating behaviour of seals.

If you bothered to read such rubbish, you'd come away

thinking we were just animals, heaven forfend. Whereas of

course seals are among the most sophisticated and sexually

irresistible creatures to be found anywhere in h2g2.

Oi! Wake up and pay attention! If you put your mind to it,

even YOU could successfully mate with a delightful

specimen of Phoca Vitulina, in all of her dark-eyed,

quivering glory. All you have to do is follow Pinniped's

Proven Formula for the Perpetuation of your Genetic

Material. That and put enough fish in the bucket at the

foot of this page.

Now, those academics are gonna try tell you that female

seals are totally submissive creatures. They'll claim that

a few dominant males have the run of the harem, and that

most of the rest of us count ourselves lucky if we get as

much as a whiff of pheromones before having a chunk bitten

out of our hind flippers.

Well, duh. It's maybe still like that on the foreshore in

the Orkneys, but modern seal living is a bit more cerebral

these days, thank you very much. Today's Miss Seal knows

just where she's going. She can think for herself. She

exercises choice, and she won't just roll over for the

traditional model of grizzled bulk and flatulent

experience. Most of all, she expects to be treated like a


If you do this properly, you could just about go round the

calendar, up to your chins in rapture. But as a wise old

walrus once said, there are a few key rules to the Seal

Deal, and you'll never stoke 'em if you broke 'em. You

ready then? These are the facts that you must know :

  1. Know your Season

    The experienced girls are gonna pup some time in the

    autumn, and everyone's biology, including the newbies',

    will kind of magically synchronise with this. Pups are a

    bit of a pain, and sophisticated menfolk have nothing to

    do with them, but at least you can't mistake the visual

    cues. Ball of white fuzz with two limpid black blobs in

    the forehead. You see one, that means that mother and the

    rest of the colony are going to be on heat again in six to

    eight weeks at most. Mum'll be suckling now, disinterested

    and probably aggressive, but if the little bugger's

    getting in the way you can always try barking at it in a

    Canadian accent. That usually induces a satisfying level

    of blind terror.

    The nearer the pole you go, the later the season. If you

    put your mind to it, you can do Europe south to north from

    about July to November, then get swimming and do the

    Southern Hemisphere from February to May. If you happen to

    be an anthropomorphised avatar rather than a

    biologically-authentic seal, then this is pretty easy. You

    just are where you claim to be at any given time, plus you

    can indulge in a bit of cross-species activity without

    anyone minding too much. But a couple of words of warning

    : Phoca are susceptible to canine distemper, so doing it

    (literally) doggy-fashion is a tad unkind. And, if you are

    an avatar, a round-the-calendar otarine sex-habit may not

    be particularly helpful viz-a-viz those horrible

    nightmares where you think that you've woken up human.
  2. Know your Basics

    Phoca do it two ways round, in the water (exquisite and

    intimate, but with a tendency to be a bit quick) or on

    land (usually lacking in grace; almost always lacking in

    seclusion). There's no good going for the former unless

    you're fit. If you are, and if she's up for it, this is

    definitely your best chance of spreading your seed without

    getting mangled by some irate bull. Don't expect anything

    too drawn out, but it can be incredibly romantic, twisting

    and taking flight in the sun-dashed water.

    On the foreshore (and assuming you haven't so far won a

    harem to yourself) you're certainly taking a big chance.

    There isn't much privacy here, and somewhere not far away

    there'll be a guy twice your weight who resents your

    audacity very deeply. Kinda makes for a thrill, though,

    provided you don't end up with your throat ripped open. On

    a more prosaic note, remember that a lot of these girls

    are up here on the beach precisely because they're sick of

    being pestered in the water. They're still going to need

    wooing and winning.
  3. Refine your Technique

    To get their attention on land, there's really no

    substitute for getting up on your front flippers and

    bellowing a lot. Many seals (quite properly) find this

    behaviour demeaning and unpleasantly redolent of our naff

    Californian cousins, minus the beach-ball. Swallow your

    pride, guys. It really seems to get the fair sex going,

    although it does also make you kind of conspicuous to the

    overgrown psycho who thinks she's all his.

    If you play this game well, your girl will slip into the

    water alongside you, where you're relatively safe and in

    control (except for the odd marauding killer-whale,

    depending on location). You might have to deliver the odd

    nip or headbutt to some loser who's been tagging along a

    few waddles behind you, but basically she's yours, once

    you get this far.

    Don't expect a partner for life. She won't remember much

    of this by next year; not even by tomorrow, maybe.

    Female Phoca become sexually receptive around two years of

    age, so paedophilia doesn't exactly come into it in the

    seal world. Kinky variants are entirely a matter for your

    own discretion. Homosexuality among males is pretty well

    authenticated, and cool between consenting partners, but

    you're on your own if you set out to bugger the big guy

    with the harem.
  4. Know When to Move On

    After making their seminal contribution to the

    continuation of the species, smart seals don't hang

    around. The faux pas in respect of the droit du seigneur

    is only the half of it. The little lady, once impregnated,

    usually proves to be a bit of a cow and will quite

    probably bite bits off you quicker than he will. Strange

    attitude, but what the hell? You've got another colony to

    adulterate, thirty miles up the coast. Go on, my son!
  5. Miscellaneous Helpful(?) Facts

    a) Those who participate in seal sex can sometimes find

    the whole experience psychologically disturbing. We

    include a few calming excerpts from Miss Silkie's famous

    column in IceStyle magazine:

    Dear Pinniped: Don't worry, the profound sense of

    post-coital emotional attachment that you describe is

    perfectly normal. If it persists for more than, say, a

    couple of minutes, you should seek vetinary advice.

    Dear Finola: Don't worry, falling asleep during the act

    is fairly commonplace. (I assume that we are talking about

    the beach here. Be careful not to drown yourself, my

    dear). Maybe it would turn out to be more memorable if you

    tried being a little more selective. And do make an effort

    to stay awake if being attended to by the big guy, as many

    of his ilk have a tendency to roll over and squash you.

    Dear Scout: Don't worry, you'll get over this. I agree

    unreservedly that he's a sick little pervert. But I'm

    sorry to have to tell you that there are some vestiges of

    factual accuracy in all of this. Try to face up to that,

    and think of another reason why it's completely unsuitable

    for the Edited Guide.

    b) It has been noted that Pinniped has presented something

    of a male-oriented view. When challenged on this, he

    pointed out that he couldn't recall talking to any of

    them. We sent the copy to the Weddell, hoping for a female

    contribution. She remarked that this ought to convince the

    magistrate, and passed it on to her solicitor.

Last Word

It says in one of those learned academic papers, courtesy

of the internet, that 'males are probably promiscuous and

possibly polygamous, which means that they have sexual

intercourse with two or more other seals at once'. You

betcha. Maybe not literally at once, but in fairly short

order anyway. This is what you should be aspiring too, you

red-blooded specimen of phocoid manhood. (That fish for

me? Don't mind if I do...)

Happy Hunting, you Guys!

The Pinniped Portfolio


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