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Snipansgrund - Medelkallan is one of seven seal protection areas along Finland's coast. Seal protection areas have been created particularly to protect the grey seal and its habitat. Seal protection areas comprise reefs and rocks in the outer skerries where the seals usually gather.

Pohjakartta © Maanmittauslaitos lupanro 172/MYY/02

Seal protection areas Snipansgrund - Medelkallan

The gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) is our biggest seal species. The male can reach 3 metres in length and weigh about 300 kilograms. The females are smaller. In the early twentieth century the seal was still common and was important for hunting. It has gradually decreased in numbers because of intensive hunting and environmental toxins, which impaired the animals' reproduction. Since the 1980s the seals have once again increased in number and become a scourge for professional fishers, since they quickly learn where they can easily find their favourite food - fish. The grey seal is a species of special concern and EU legislation requires that sheltered areas for the grey seal are established.

The seal protection area Snipansgrund-Medelkallan consists of stones and sand banks, most of which are underwater. There was once a lightship on Snipansgrund. A lightship is a vessel anchored on a specific site to warn and guide seamen with a sphere on the mast by day and a strong light by night. The lightship on Snipansgrund arrived in 1866 and was the first lightship in Finland. It was replaced a few times and the last lightship was removed in 1960.

Freedom of movement is limited within the protected area. Unless permission is received from Metsähallitus, travel is prohibited all year round in seal protection areas and visitors are not allowed to come closer than a half nautical mile (926 metres) from the rocks that are the core area of the protected areas. Between 1 February and 15 June a permit from Metsähallitus is also required to move within a radius of a half nautical mile from the rocks. Only professional fishers are entitled to engage in fishing in the protected areas outside a radius of a half nautical mile from the core area. There is a total ban on hunting in the seal protection areas.

Photo: Ove Kaarto
Photo: Ove Kaarto
Photo: Ove Kaarto
Seals often gather in large groups on rocks in the sea
Seals resting on cliffs
Photo: Ove Kaarto
Photo: Ove Kaarto
Photo: Åke Öster, 1959
The seals got there first
Camp during seal hunting

Texts: Anders Enetjärn, Lise-Lotte Molander.
Translation: Accent Språkservice AB.
Layout & illustrations: Päivi Anttila.
Webbdesign: Fredrik Smeds, Freddi Com Oy Ab.
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