One of Norfolk’s annual winter wildlife spectacles is underway with the first grey seal pup spotted at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, cared for by the National Trust, on the north Norfolk coastline, six days later than last year.
The very first seal pup was born at the point in 1988. Since then, the site has grown to become England’s largest grey seal colony, with the numbers born increasing from just 25 pups in 2001 to 4,000 in 2020.
It’s believed this is due to low levels of disturbance and mortality during the first few key weeks of life and a lack of natural predators.
This year, National Trust rangers are anticipating around 4,500 new arrivals at Blakeney Point. Global numbers are estimated to be around 300,000 with British and Irish waters supporting about 40 per cent of the grey seal population.
The colony at Blakeney has now become so large that it is almost impossible to record the number of pups precisely. Until a few years ago, the pups were counted individually by rangers and volunteers walking carefully through the colony, but from last year, numbers of new-borns and weaned pups – which will have moulted their white fur but will be much smaller than the adults – were recorded in just one specific area to give an indication of the overall size of the colony.
Due to increasing numbers of seals each year, Chris Bielby, Countryside Manager for the National Trust on the North Norfolk Coast said:
Since the first pup was seen, another five seal pups have been spotted further along the Point.
For more information on how to see the seal pups on Blakeney Point check out the National Trust’s website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blakeney