Dozens of calls a day to charity about seal welfare on Norfolk beaches
- Credit: Danielle Booden
A growing seal population and increased visitor numbers to Norfolk beaches where the mammals congregate has led to a wildlife charity receive dozens of calls a day from people concerned about the animals' welfare.
In most cases, the calls Marine and Wildlife Rescue volunteers receive are for healthy seals, but the increase in calls has led the charity to urge people to learn more about seals and their behaviour.
In Norfolk, Horsey, Winterton and Blakeney are home to some of the largest Grey Seal colonies in the country, but the creatures and their counterpart the Common Seal can also be seen at other locations along the coast.
Dan Goldsmith, of MWR which is based in Great Yarmouth and works closely with other organisations, including the Friends of Horsey Seals, said the seal population had ballooned in recent years, leading him and his colleagues to dozens of calls a day, sometimes for the same animal.
He said: "We get lots and lots of calls from people, day-trippers and holidaymakers but also local people and people who don't generally come across [seals].
Mr Goldsmith said the MWR often asked people to send them pictures of the seals they were concerned about in order to help volunteers decide if the seal was in need of assistance.
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He said many of the calls the organisation received were for healthy seals and that often members of the public "just didn't know what to look for."
"People see a young seal on a beach and think it's abandoned but at about three, four weeks old seals wean off their mum.
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"The other misconception is that people think seals should be in the water all the time and there are people constantly ringing us [about that].
"Just because a seal is on the beach, it doesn't mean anything is amiss with it. They will come up for a day, even for longer periods," he said.
Earlier this month a North Norfolk District Council launched a campaign designed to help keep seals along the coast safe.
Mr Goldsmith added that seals were "naturally lazy animals" and would often strike a balance between wanting to rest and being disturbed by humans.
He said he appreciated that people loved to see seals but urged people to remember they are wild animals and that they should always keep their distance.
"Seals are fascinating creatures and people seem to be very taken by them but they are naturally very dangerous," he said.