England’s largest grey seal colony goes from strength to strength

hundreds of seals and their pups lying on the beach on Blakeney Point
Published : 23 Jan 2020

Blakeney Point, home to England's largest grey seal colony, is celebrating another successful, record-breaking seal pupping season.

•    The final count is in and 3,399 grey seal pups have been born on Blakeney Point this winter, a 13% increase on last year
•    The record-breaking news comes as the National Trust celebrates 125 years of looking after nature, beauty and history for the nation to enjoy
•    Blakeney was the first stretch of coastline acquired by the National Trust, which is now home to the largest grey seal colony in England 

Blakeney Point National Nature Reserve has been in the care of the National Trust since 1912. Internationally important for its breeding birds, it wasn’t until 2001 that a grey seal colony established itself here, and since then it has gone from strength to strength.

Grey seals at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk
Grey seals at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk
Grey seals at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk

Numbers of grey seal pups born on the reserve surpassed 3,000 for the first time in 2019, with the number rising to 3,399 this winter. It’s believed that the remoteness of the reserve and limited disturbance is creating the perfect habitat for what has become the largest grey seal colony in England.

National Trust rangers are out regularly monitoring the colony by counting and recording seal pups throughout the winter breeding season, which covers November to early January. 

Blakeney Point Rangers counting seal pups on Blakeney Point, Norfolk
two rangers in dark clothing are standing in the middle of the picture in a low sand dune with lots of adult grey seals and white snowy pups
Blakeney Point Rangers counting seal pups on Blakeney Point, Norfolk

National Trust Ranger, Leighton Newman, said; “Our first seal pups were spotted on 1 November, which kicked off another busy season on Blakeney Point. By the peak of the pupping season, around early December, up to 180 seal pups can be born each day.

“It’s a busy time when we’re counting the new arrivals and we couldn’t do what we do without the support of our team of dedicated volunteers, who are out in all weathers with us, speaking to visitors and helping to monitor the seal colony. It’s thanks to them, giving their time, that we’re able to continue the work that our founders started."

“As we mark our milestone anniversary, we’re not just looking back, but forward. It’s important we continue to help connect people with nature, if we are to inspire them to want to care for it. It’s a careful balance, creating ways for people to enjoy this magnificent wildlife spectacle, whilst keeping disturbance to a minimum. So we’d like to say a big thank you to our visitors and local community, who have been keeping to waymarked routes and respecting these wild animals by keeping their distance this winter, as it’s thanks to their efforts that we can ensure the colony thrives."

A young grey seal pup
A young grey seal pup on Blakeney Point
A young grey seal pup