New record for seal pups born at England’s largest colony
The final count is in and National Trust rangers have confirmed it’s a record-breaking year for the number of seal pups born this winter.
This year’s count of 2,700 seals at the National Trust’s Blakeney Point National Nature Reserve, England’s largest seal colony, has broken all previous records. The tally is a far cry from 2001 when just 25 pups were born.
The grey seal colony had grown every year since recordings began in 2001, up until 2014/15. Last year, the team recorded 2,366 pups.
Each year, rangers from the conservation charity spend several months monitoring the success rate of the breeding seals, which is crucial to understanding how the population is faring. This year’s count, which began on 23 October 2017, was also a record, as it was the earliest recorded date for a grey seal birth on the Point.
National Trust Ranger, Ajay Tegala, said: “Blakeney Point is the perfect breeding site for grey seals, not least because of the absence of predators and relative remoteness which keeps disturbances to a minimum.
“There’s also plenty of space to support the large numbers of seals on the sandy beach, with sheltered sand dunes further inland providing additional protection from bad weather. The east coast has escaped some of the worst storms to hit the UK this winter, with reserves on the west coast faring less well following Hurricane Ophelia in October.”
Elsewhere along the east coast, other seal colonies have also fared well. National Trust rangers on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast recorded a bumper year with the arrival of 2010 pups. Donna Nook, which is cared for by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, saw births pass the 2,000 mark for the first time and over 1,600 seals have been recorded further along the Norfolk coastline at Horsey.
National Trust Lead Ranger, Stephen Prowse, said: “The coasts around the UK are home to around half of the worlds grey seals, and it’s fantastic to see them thriving again this year. Thank you to all of our volunteers who spend their time helping us to monitor the colony.”
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