Grey seals continue to break records at Blakeney Point

Lots of seals and white fluffy pups laying the sand between bushes with the orange sunset giving everything a glow
Published : 12 Dec 2019

Grey seal pup numbers have broken all previous records at the National Trust’s Blakeney Point, with a month of pupping still to go.

The grey seal rookery has grown remarkably since it was first established in 2001, when just 25 pups were born. Since then numbers passed the 1,000 mark in 2012, 2,000 in 2014 and 3,000 last year in 2018. This year, the numbers have already surpassed last year’s total of 3,012 with the latest count of 3,068.

National Trust rangers monitor the colony at Blakeney Point and record seal pups born on this coastal spit throughout the winter. Counts began this year on 1 November when the first four seal pups were spotted during a routine check of the colony.  

A grey seal pup peeks above the grass at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk
A Grey seal pup at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk
A grey seal pup peeks above the grass at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk

Although it’s not known for certain what’s led to this record-breaking colony at Blakeney Point, the reserve is the perfect breeding site for grey seals, not least because of the absence of predators and the relative remoteness which keeps disturbance to a minimum. 

Leighton Newman is a ranger on Blakeney Point: “Whilst its very busy on the reserve with over 7,000 seals currently present, including adults, there’s lots of space to support the expanding numbers.

“We’re also starting to see the seals move into different areas of the reserve, so in addition to the shallow-sloping sandy beach, more are moving into the sheltered sand dunes further inland, which provides additional protection from any bad weather, although it’s been particularly mild again so far this winter.”

There’s still another month left of the breeding season at Blakeney Point so the National Trust ranger team will wait to see what the final count brings in January. 

Grey seal colony at Blakeney Point, Norfolk
Grey seal colony at Blakeney Point, Norfolk
Grey seal colony at Blakeney Point, Norfolk

The seal colony is very sensitive to any kind of disturbance during the pupping season. So, to help visitors planning a visit this winter, to make sure it’s safe and enjoyable and ensure the seal pups have the best chance of survival, the National Trust has these top tips:
•    Although it’s possible to walk the six-mile round trip on loose shingle, the best way to see the seals and enjoy the closest views, is by taking a boat trip from Morston Quay, which depart regularly during the pupping season. Booking recommended.
•    Always keep your distance from any seals you come across. Please do not try to take your photo with any seals, as mothers are protective, and males are very territorial, which could result in serious injury to you or the death of a pup.
•    If you do decide to visit on foot, then we ask that you leave your dog at home or keep them on a short lead at all times, to minimise any stress or disturbance to the colony.
•    The pupping area is fenced off, giving these wild animals the space, they need to give birth and raise their pups. Please respect these fence lines and any advice from our team, to ensure you get the most out of your visit and the seal pups can enjoy the natural environment to bring up their pups. 

Stay up to date with how the seal pup season is progressing and latest counts by checking out our Facebook or Twitter pages.