Lincolnshire

'Jet black' grey seal spotted at Donna Nook Nature Reserve

Seal pup at Donna Nook Nature Reserve Image copyright Emily Cunningham
Image caption The black seal pup has been causing a stir on social media

A rare jet black seal pup has been spotted at one of the largest seal reserves in the UK.

Grey seals are normally born white but change colour at about two or three weeks when they shed their fur.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, which runs the Donna Nook reserve, said it was likely the seal pup was born white but turned black after moulting.

Rachel Shaw, from the trust, said nationally only about one in 400 grey seal pups are totally black.

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Image copyright Gareth Watcham
Image caption Grey seals are normally born white but shed their fur after about two or three weeks

She said: "They all have that white fluffy coat when they are born and then they moult to reveal their first waterproof adult coat ready to go out to sea.

"Normally that's a kind of greyish colour with dark splodges, but this one is actually completely jet black.

"We don't tend to see black adult grey seals, so it might be that when it goes though its annual moult the colour becomes less intense."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The seals spend most of the year at sea or on distant sandbanks

The newborn - one of about 1,700 pups born at the reserve so far this year - has caused a stir on social media with people commenting on how it stands out from the crowd.

Mark Bentley tweeted: "The little black pup looks simply stunning."

While Emily Cunningham wrote: "Wow!!! A black Grey Seal pup! Spotted amongst the 1200 fluffy white pups at Donna Nook."

The reserve has also recorded its earliest ever birth this year, with the first pup reported on 13 October.

A record-breaking 1,959 pups were born at the reserve in 2016, but the total is expected to rise slightly this season.

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