A man has been photographed posing for pictures while petting a seal pup.

Eastern Daily Press: A seal pup in Horsey. Picture: James BassA seal pup in Horsey. Picture: James Bass (Image: James Bass © 2015)

The picture was taken on Sunday on Horsey beach and depicts a man stroking a seal while two others watch on and take photographs.

An onlooker who took the photograph said: “I had never seen the seals before and went along to take some pictures. When I got there people were gathered around some of the seals, and I didn’t expect that.

“The little pup tried to bite him and get him away and then after that the man tried again once more. There were wardens there and even they were fairly close to the seals. I don’t think they saw what he was doing.

“I think it was a case of people just doing things without putting a lot of thought into it. I don’t think they thought about the consequences.

“I have shared on social media the picture because I want people to realise you can’t just go up touching seals.”

Peter Ansell, chairman of Friends of Horsey Seals, said the man was lucky not to have been injured.

He said: “The guy is lucky he didn’t get his hand bitten off. Speaking from experience I can say these animals can turn on a sixpence in a flash. One minute you are approaching them from their rear, the next you’re looking down their mouth.

“The guy is fortunate, but in a way, what we’re waiting for us somebody to get really badly bitten, because maybe then people will listen and realise that these are wild animals.

“Just imagine if he was lying on the beach minding his own business and somebody came along and started poking and prodding him - I think he would become pretty irate rather quickly.”

Mr Ansell said the man’s behaviour could have harmful consequences for children.

He said: “The problem is children can see this sort of behaviour and think it is okay, and if they try to do the same they can get really badly hurt. It is an act of crass stupidity.”

Friends of Horsey Seals have now finished wardening as pupping season is over.

The charity said 1,825 pups were born this season on the beaches between Waxham and Winterton.

People are advised to keep at least 10 metres away from seals on beaches.