Norfolk

Blakeney Point seal pup numbers may break records

Seal pup at Blakeney
Image caption Blakeney Point has become a mecca for breeding seals over the last 10 years

More than 900 seal pups have been born on a north Norfolk nature reserve in the last three weeks giving experts hopes of another record breaking year.

Seal wardens on the National Trust (NT) reserve at Blakeney Point have recorded 180 more grey seal pups compared to this time last year.

Coastal ranger Ajay Tegala said the location is a "fantastic" breeding site as "human disturbance is minimal."

Mr Tegala predicts up to 1,800 pups could be born by the end of February.

"The seals like Blakeney Point as it has beaches and dunes which are safe and easy places to have a pup with no predators," he said.

Last year, 1,566 pups were counted during the four month breeding season at Blakeney Point, a split of shingle and sand jutting out into the North Sea.

Image copyright Neil Winston Symonds
Image caption Seal colonies and newborns can also be found on the beaches at Waxham and Horsey

Seals have been breeding on the site since about 2001, when just 25 were recorded.

Pup numbers reached over 1,000 for the first time during the 2012-13 breeding season, with newborns now increasing by about 25% year-on-year.

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Media captionSeal pup numbers have increased year-on-year since 2002

Blakeney has become well known for its seals with thousands of tourist taking boat trips to see the colonies each year.

Mr Tegala said: "We do a pup count twice a week and comparing this year to last year we're almost 200 ahead so it looks like the number will continue to increase and another record-breaking year is on the cards."

Grey seals

  • Grey seals are Britain's largest living carnivore
  • Britain has 36% of the world population of grey seals around its shores
  • Pups weigh 14kg (30.8lb) at birth but quickly gain the blubber they need because their mother's milk contains 60% fat
  • Bulls can grow to over 3m in length and weigh more than 300kg

Source: BBC Nature

Visitors have been flocking to the north Norfolk coast to see the seals, prompting the NT to warn people to keep their distance and keep all dogs on leads.

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