Rare Arctic Bearded Seal Spotted on Cork River Bank

A rare and unusual visitor has been spotted in West cork. A bearded seal, more commonly found in Arctic sea has been spotted over the weekend at banks of the estuary at Timoleague, West Cork.

bearded seal cork

Unusual visitor – bearded seal on the banks of Timoleague (Credit Paul Connaughton)

These distinctive creatures with their whiskery beards can weigh up to 250kg and are usually found in the icy climates of northern Canada, Greenland and the Russian Arctic.  

bearded seal cork

Bearded seals are usually found in the icy conditions of the Arctic (Credit Paul Connaughton)

The seal was spotted over the weekend by Paul Connaughton, a member of Bird Watch Ireland and owner of Shearwater Wildlife Tours. While out near the banks of Timoleague he was struck by the pale colour of the seal on the banks and immediately took out his binoculars and camera for a closer inspection. The seal appeared to be in a very healthy condition and after a while ‘bumbled along into the water’ and swam off down the river.

This is the second known sighting of a bearded seal in Ireland, the last was a female who had gotten into trouble 15 years ago off Galway.

The question being raised by wildlife groups is why such a healthy looking seal is this far south. This is one of a number of arctic creatures spotted in our Ireland’s in recent years.


About the Author

Ann Robinson
Has a passion for coastal heritage and maritime history. Loves sharing the best of the Irish coast online. Contact me ann@coastmonkey.ie or follow me on Twitter @AnnRobinson22