First grey seal pup of season born at Blakeney Point
- Credit: Hanne Siebers
Blakeney Point has seen its first grey seal pup of the year born, arriving six days earlier than last year.
Staff at Blakeney National Nature Reserve on the north Norfolk coast spotted the seal on October 29, at what has become England's largest grey seal colony.
Since then staff say they have already spotted five more pups towards the end of the reserve.
This year, National Trust rangers at the reserve are anticipating around 4,500 new arrivals at Blakeney Point. The species' population globally is thought to be around 300,000, with British and Irish waters supporting about 40pc of those.
The colony at Blakeney has now become so large, it is impossible to record the number of pups precisely.
Chris Bielby, countryside manager for the National Trust on the north Norfolk coast, said: “We’re really proud to announce the birth of the first pup of the season, it’s always a special date in our year and a real wildlife spectacle for visitors.
“We expect many people will want to come and see these wonderful animals.
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"We ask all our visitors to remember that seals are wild animals and can be dangerous.
"Please stay outside of the fenced areas and follow signage, this is not only to protect the seals but our visitors too.
"We recommend you bring binoculars and enjoy watching this wildlife spectacle from a distance that keeps you safe and the seals undisturbed.”
Until a few years ago, the pups were counted individually by rangers and volunteers walking carefully through the colony, but from last year, they are being recorded in just one specific area to give an indication of the overall size of the colony due to the amount of pups at the point.
The first pup was spotted at the point in 1988 and since then numbers born have increased from just 25 pups in 2001 to 4000 in 2020.
To help visitors have a safe visit, the trust says the best place to see the seals is by boat from Morston Quay. The trust asks visitors to respect fence lines at the reserve, keeping distance from the seals.
It also advises visitors to leave their dogs at home.