Wildlife web cams ... oh, how we love them! And this one comes to us from Maine's Seal Island, where birthing season just happens to be in full swing. "Seal Cam", which is powered by solar panels, has been capturing all the activity at the Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge, which has the second-largest grey seal pupping colony in the United States.

Live streaming video by Ustream

Besides offering us endless distraction, the streaming video camera gives researchers a great opportunity to learn more about grey seal behaviour, particularly in the cold winter months when fieldwork is not possible. Cameras were initially set up on the island to monitor sea birds in the summer, as part of a collaboration between the National Audubon Society and explore.org. Then in 2012, the video technology was harnessed for studying grey seals in the winter for the first time.

Fast forward to 2014 and Seal Cam is in action once more. Seal researchers from the NOAA's Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) have been monitoring all the activity closely, including interactions between mothers and pups, and between seals and the island's other animal inhabitants. 

"It's watching nature in action," says NOAA's Stephanie Wood on their website. "As researchers, we are interested in learning when the first pups arrive, how long they keep their white coats, and how long they stay ashore after birth before heading off on their own.”

Since being turned on last month, the camera has already captured some amazing seal interactions, as well as this pretty special recording of a live seal birth. You can watch live footage right through to early February, from 10am to 2pm (EST) daily on Explore.org. 

Top header image: Jez Torrance, Flickr