The first grey seal pups of this winter’s pupping season have been born at Blakeney National Nature Reserve in Norfolk.
The National Trust reserve is home to the largest colony in England, following a large increase in numbers in the last 20 years. In 1999, just five pups were born at the site. Now, around 4,500 pups are born there every year.
The number of seals has become too large to simply count on the ground., so aerial photographs will be used to help estimate the size of the colony. Support in counting the colony will be provided by marine biologists at the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews.
During pupping season, which lasts until mid-January, the seals will be monitored by National Trust rangers and volunteers, who will maintain a regular presence on the shingle spit to prevent disturbances. They will also use a continuous live feed from a remote camera to monitor the seals and their pups.
Visitors with dogs will not be permitted to walk the full length of Blakeney Point until pupping season is over.
Duncan Halpin, National Trust’s ranger, said: “The grey seal colony is in the early stages of becoming established for this year and we are looking forward to following the progress of the colony, and its new pups, this winter.
“Over the coming months, Blakeney Point will be carpeted in grey seals, as something in the region of 4,500 cow seals come ashore to have their pups.
“It’s a breathtaking sight and is testimony to the potential of our marine life to thrive when the right conditions, and protection from disturbance, are in place.”
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