National Trust reports "meteoric" rise of seal pups on Norfolk coast's Blakeney Point

By Culture24 Reporter | 19 December 2011
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A photo of a seal on ice
Grey seals are rampant in a corner of Norfolk
© National Trust
Seals might currently be among the public's creatures of choice thanks to their antics on the BBC’s Frozen Planet series, but a corner of the Norfolk coast is doing a fine job of impersonating anything the Arctic has to offer.

Blakeney Point, a spit shingle nature reserve, has reported record-breaking grey seal breeding figures already this winter.

"The number of seal pups born this season is amazing," reports Graham Lubbock, one of the area wardens for landowners the National Trust.

"We have already recorded 779 pups, which means, including mothers and bull seals, we have more than 1,800 seals on Blakeney Point.

"We were expecting to see the number of new born pups level off from year to year but there is no sign of that happening yet. It is such a success story for the grey seal."

A photo of dozens of seals on a beach
The spit shingle reserve established a breeding colony in 2001
© National Trust
Planners are describing the rise as "meteoric", having recorded the first born pup in 1988 and established a breeding colony of 25 by 2001.

A 31-fold increase has taken place since then, with more than 750 dozing blubber beauties born during the past month.

The statistics are particularly impressive at a potentially tricky time of year for the colonies, which are a hit with visitors to the picturesque reserve.

Seals are very sensitive to human disturbance, and bulls are liable to fatally injure pups as they bid to protect their potential female mates from perceived threats from onlookers.

Turbulent weather conditions have caused a number of pups to appear in less remote locations around the Point, and organisers are advising the public to observe them via boat trips from Morston Quay rather than approaching the pups.

"Grey seals take four to five years to reach breeding maturity, and like to return to the place they were born to breed," adds Lubbock, who is expecting the numbers to calm down eventually.

"At some point they'll reach capacity, both in terms of space on the beach and food supply."

Members of the public who spot injured or at-risk seals in the area can contact the National Trust on 01263 740241 or the RSPCA hotline on 0870 55 55 999.
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