A campaign has been launched to protect seals from disturbance as people head to the coast for the Easter weekend.

The government-backed campaign by the Seal Alliance is warning that getting too close to seals can lead to the injury and death of mothers and pups, even up to several months later.

It is urging people to take simple steps to protect seals, including staying well away so they cannot smell, hear or see human observers and using a camera zoom or binoculars to watch them instead.

Eastern Daily Press: Seals at Horsey Gap during pupping season this yearSeals at Horsey Gap during pupping season this year (Image: Archant)

People are also urged to keep dogs on a lead when seals might be present, never to feed the marine mammals and to take all litter home.

Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS) has posted an "urgent message" on its website asking the public to treat the animals with the ultimate respect they deserve.

It asks people not to take selfies and to keep a distance from the wild animals, as well as ensuring you never come between a pup and their mother. Approaching a seal pup could even result in the mother abandoning it.

FoHS reiterates the Seal Alliance campaign message of keeping a distance of at least 10 metres from the animals.

The push to protect seals from human disturbance comes as people are expected to go for walks on coasts and estuaries, take part in water activities or fly drones over the Easter weekend as lockdown measures ease.

The Seal Alliance, a coalition of regional marine wildlife groups, is asking people to show special caution as seals have ventured further inshore on beaches and coastlines that have become quieter as a result of lockdown.

Experts warn the grey seal population face threats including climate change, toxic pollution, entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with vessels, plastics and other marine debris and human disturbance.

Andy Ottaway, of the Seal Protection Action Group, said: "Our precious coastal wildlife is coming under increasing human pressure.

"We need to be aware of the harm we can cause by getting too close to our seals and the often tragic consequences when we do."

If you see a seal in distress or difficulty at Horsey and Winterton, contact FoHS on 07706 314514.