Seal numbers at Donna Nook expected to recover

Seal pup at Donna Nook Nature Reserve Image copyright Getty Images

Seal numbers are expected to recover at a nature reserve which suffered severe flooding a year ago.

More than 1,200 seal pups have been born at Donna Nook in Lincolnshire so far this year.

The seal birth rate dropped by about 15% in 2013 because of the severe weather and flooding, which displaced hundreds of the seals.

Dozens of seal pups died in 2011 when they were separated from their mothers by a series of high tides.

The coastal reserve is visited by as many as 5,000 people each weekend during the breeding season.

Seal colony

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Large bull seals - which can weigh up to 800lbs (360kg) - arrive at Donna Nook in late October or early November and wait for the females to arrive
  • Cow seals are herded into harems by the bulls, where they give birth to a single pup
  • The young pups are suckled for three weeks during which time their weight will almost triple
  • Mating takes place after the pups are weaned and the seal's gestation period is about 11 months
  • The seals return to the North Sea in January and spend some time on sand banks off the coast
  • The cow seals usually return to the same area to give birth the following year

Image copyright Getty Images

Last year, the first pup was born on 23 October and pup numbers stood at 1,528 by 29 November.

The last was born on 18 December, when a total of 1,676 pups had been born.

This left staff confident that the tidal surge would not have a long-term impact on the seal colony.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image copyright Getty Images

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