First seal pups spotted on the Farne Islands

Farne Island seals

The first seal pups of the year have been spotted by our rangers on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland Coast.

The first sighting of a seal pup has been announced by the rangers on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland Coast.  The annual seal count, carried out by the resident rangers, is triggered by the birth of the first pups.

Healthy numbers

Every year, over 1500 pups are born on the islands, which is one of the largest Atlantic grey seal colonies in England with a population estimated at 5000.  The breeding season for seals on the Farnes sometimes starts as early as mid-September with the majority of pups being born in October and November.  Rangers from conservation charity the National Trust spend three months each autumn monitoring the success rate of the breeding seals. 

Counting seals

The rangers count the seals every four days, weather permitting.  Once born, they’re sprayed with a harmless dye to indicate the week they are born; using a rotation of three or four colours allows the rangers keep track of the numbers.

Although the pups can swim at an early age they don’t normally leave the breeding colony until they have been weaned and moulted their soft white coats.  This happens when they are about two or three weeks old and their dense grey waterproof fur comes through