Looe Seal IDs : Can you tell who is who?


In October 2008, Cornwall Seal Group were invited to talk at one of the Looe Voluntary Marine Conservation Area meetings by Abby Crosby of Cornwall Wildlife Trust. By December 2008 Abby, at the request of some of the volunteers present, had organised the first seal survey around St George's (Looe) Island...and the rest is history! Weather and sea conditions permitting, monthly seal (and bird) surveys have been carried out ever since. Each survey involves up to 12 volunteers boarding a boat across to Looe (St George's) Island, where they remain for the day until tidal conditions allow for their return to Looe harbour. On arrival, volunteers attend an informal planning meeting for the day before carrying out a bird species count during one complete circumnavigation of the island. After lunch, the two and a half hour seal survey is conducted, either side of low tide, and volunteers rotate around the five survey positions every half an hour. The project has been tremendously successful and an inspiration to all involved, as seal surprises just keep on coming. Below are photos of most of the Island's repeat visitor seals. Click here to find our more about these seal surveys.

LF1 : Snowdrop

This adult female is named after the three white petal markings she has on the right side of neck. She was first identified from her appearance in the Time Team programme from St George's Island in May 2008. She has been seen every year since then, but prefers to visit this area between the months of Feb & Aug.


LF6 : Pawprint

A mature adult female with much darker markings, Pawprint was first identified in May 2009. Presumably having discovered that she likes the seas around the island, Pawprint has been seen a lot more frequently in 2010. She tends to visit between May and October.


LF15 : Dame Etna

The first time we saw Dame Etna, named after the smoking volcano pattern on the right side of her neck, she was with Arrow. She kept howling at him as she kept hauling into her personal space. He didn't put her off the area though, as she has been seen in both June and July this year.

LF2 : Duchess

Duchess has beautiful markings that look like jewellery around her neck. She is probably blind in her left eye. First identified in March 2009, Duchess has been seen 24 times since. She also appears around February, but tends to stay longer than Snowdrop, not disappearing until October when she presumably leaves to have pups!


LM10: Wotsit

When he was first seen, Wotsit was a juvenile, but he is beginning to mature into a young adult. He is very dark, but his simple and distinctive white markings make him easy to identify. First identified in August 2009, we were gobsmacked when he turned up near St Ives Bay in May 2010!


LM9 : Sunrise

A big, fearless adult male, Sunrise has lovely mid grey markings all over his back and his belly. He is named after the white pattern of setting sun's rays on the left side of his neck. First identified in August 2009, he has been back in 2010, most notably telling kayakers that the Ranneys were his!

LF8 : Lucille

A beautiful juvenile seal named after the area she frequents - Looe seal! In May 2009, Lucille was observed begging for fish from boats. She was seen a lot in 2009, but has been more elusive in 2010, perhaps as she has matured into an adult, which may have affected her visit pattern.


LM16 : Arrow

Arrow is a mature adult male who was first identified near St Ives Bay. He was first spotted on the Ranneys south of St George's Island in September 2009, when he was hassling Dame Etna and following her from one side of the Ranneys to the other.


LM14 : Nemo Cosmo

A young adult male, Nemo Cosmo has few markings around his head, so he can only really be identified when he periscopes out of the water! He was only seen once in August 2009, but he reappeared again this summer a little bit later, in September.


Just to get you started...can you work out which seals are in the photos below? Answers at the bottom of the page!
Seal 1 (Left) : Seal 2 (Middle) : Cornwall Seal Group leaflet (Right)

If you are lucky enough to visit St George's Island this year, please remember to pick up one of our 'Grey Seals around St George's Island' leaflets that are available on the island. If you go out on the sea, please observe the Cornwall Marine Code of Conduct and resist the temptation to feed any of the seals you see! Intelligent creatures, seals soon learn where to find an easy meal and quickly learn to associate boats with food. This creates problems for boat owners and seals. To break the link in seals’ minds of boats and food, please don’t feed seals.

To date there are 30 different seals in the St George's Island seal photo ID catalogue and 11 of these seals have been repeat visitors to the area. The two most frequently observed seals are both adult females - Snowdrop and Duchess who have been seen 30 and 24 times respectively. Snowdrop has been the seal observed the longest as she was first identified in May 2008 during an appearance on the Time Team TV programme! Two of the male seals observed around St George's Island have incredibly been seen on the north Cornish coast - Arrow a mature adult male and Wotsit a sub adult male. So far, there have been over 100 different seal identifications, which is very impressive.

For more information about this collaborative research project by Looe Marine Conservation Group volunteers, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Cornwall Seal Group, please download our reports - below and visit CWT's seal survey page for more information about this ongoing monthly project.






LISPIP Dec 2008

LISPIP Feb 2009

LISPIP Mar 2009


LISPIP May 2009

LISPIP Jun 2009

LISPIP Jul 2009


LISPIP Aug 2009

LISPIP Sep 2009

LISPIP Oct 2009


LISPIP Dec 2009

LISPIP Jan 2010

LISPIP Feb 2010


LISPIP Apr 2010

LISPIP May 2010

LISPIP Jun 2010


LISPIP Jul 2010

LISPIP Aug 2010

LISPIP Sept 2010


LISPIP Oct 2010

LISPIP Nov 2010

LISPIP Apr 2011



Special thanks to absolutely everyone who has participated in or supported this brilliant voluntary research project.

Answers : Seal 1 is LF1 Snowdrop : Seal 2 is LF6 Pawprint!

Photos taken by Carl, Claire, Derek, Martin and Sue

Return to archive news

Return to home page