A group dedicated to the protection of marine life on the north Norfolk coast has warned people to avoid contact with seals on beaches over health concerns.

Eastern Daily Press: The seal was stroked by a member of the public on Mundesley beach on Monday. Picture: Nadine GrayThe seal was stroked by a member of the public on Mundesley beach on Monday. Picture: Nadine Gray (Image: (c) copyright newzulu.com)

Seal and Shore Watch UK (SaSW) sent out the warning after hearing of a person stroking a young seal which was resting on the beach at Mundesley on Monday.

One of the group’s volunteer first responders had assessed the juvenile mammal earlier in the day after receiving a call from the public, and determined that he was in good health.

Another medic went to check on him later in the day and found that he had gone on his way, but after speaking to another person on the beach discovered that they had stroked the seal while he was still there.

This prompted the group to put out a message on social media, warning people not to come in direct contact with the animals over concerns about potential toxins that could be passed on.

SaSW said: “Do they not realise the toxins that seals carry? They are wild animals.

“We are just about getting back to some normality after 12 weeks of lockdown, where we have repeatedly been told how the coronavirus attacks. Washing hands has been the main thing we’ve been told to do repeatedly.

“What I’m getting at is there is no difference, the person stroking the seal could touch their face or mouth. Think of the toxins transferred from the seal’s skin to the person’s mouth.”

People are always advised to give a wide berth to seals, who often come to rest on beaches to help them digest their food after a meal.

Advice also includes to keep dogs on leads and to never chase a seal back into the water, as this could prove fatal if the animal is injured or ill.

If bitten by a seal, people are advised to seek medical attention in order to prevent the wound from becoming infected.

SaSW said: “If you get bitten, you will need antibiotics. You will need a letter to take to your doctor, so they know which antibiotic to give you.

“A seal bite can take up to a year to heal.”

If in doubt, SaSW advise people to contact them with any queries.