First baby seals spotted on Norfolk coast as pupping season gets underway
The first baby grey seals have been spotted at a vitally important coastal breeding site as the UK pupping season gets underway
The first grey seal pups of the season have been spotted at a vitally important coastal breeding site in Norfolk.
Nearly 4,000 baby seals were born along a five-mile stretch of Horsey Beach last year – a record for the region. The native marine mammals' pupping season usually begins in November, and on Wednesday (November 8) the first new pups were caught on camera relaxing on the sand.
A PA journalist at the scene reports a number of young seals were present, with one young seal seen rolling on its back, while another had what looked like a smile on its face as it lay on its stomach. A different seal was captured gazing off into the distance, while one appeared to be brushing up on its yoga as it held a pose.
About 50% of the world population of grey seals lives around the British Coast, making the UK an important breeding area for them, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust says. The Norfolk coast is a hotspot for seals in general, with large breeding colonies of both grey and common - also known as harbour - seals.
Besides Horsey, the largest colony can be found at Blakeney Point. The Trust advises anyone wanting to visit a seal colony to stay a good distance away from the seals. "Look out for seals in the dunes and give them a wide berth."
It was "exceptionally important" not to disturb mother seals, or they might abandon their pups. They urged people to keep dogs on a leash, and stick to marked viewing areas, respecting any fencing, particularly during pupping season. "Remember grey seals are wild animals and should not be approached," they warned.
Norfolk is also home to the the Norfolk Hospital for Seals, operated by Sea Life Hunstanton. Staff have recently returned a number of young seal pups rehabilitated after being abandoned after birth back to the wild, where they will hopefully join the region's breeding population someday.
Norfolk's grey seals give birth from early November through to the end of January, while common seals have their pupping season in the summer months. Grey seal pups are fluffy and white, and the Wildlife Trust says they will be fed by their mothers on the beach for up to three weeks - while they grow roughly two kilograms heavier each day.
After three weeks, their mothers will leave the pups to their own devices. After they moult their fluffy coats, they will eventually head out to sea too - to learn how to fish for themselves.