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Volunteers needed to look out for Norfolk seal colony

PUBLISHED: 11:01 12 September 2015 | UPDATED: 13:32 12 September 2015

Breeding grey seals on the beach at Horsey in Norfolk.
December 2011
Picture: James Bass

Breeding grey seals on the beach at Horsey in Norfolk. December 2011 Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

Up to fifteen new faces will be keeping a watchful eye on the seal colony at Horsey this winter.

Grey Seal colony resting on the beach at Horsey, Norfolk
February 2010

Picture: James Bass
For: Filer
Eastern Daily Press © 2010  (01603) 772434Grey Seal colony resting on the beach at Horsey, Norfolk February 2010 Picture: James Bass For: Filer Eastern Daily Press © 2010 (01603) 772434

The one mile stretch hosts up to 500 Atlantic grey seal pups at a time and is a massive draw for wildlife enthusiasts.

Last season around 60,000 people descended on the shores, shepherded by volunteer marshals working in short shifts in often freezing conditions.

Now bolstering a bank of more than 100 volunteers are “at least ten to 15” new people keen to help with the caring work protecting the colony and advising the public.

Peter Ansell, chairman of Friends of Horsey Seals said there were more seals to see every year and more people coming to see them.

Grey Seals on the beach at Horsey. October 2014  Picture: James BassGrey Seals on the beach at Horsey. October 2014 Picture: James Bass

He had contacted all of last years volunteers and was still awaiting some responses but was delighted to welcome the new recruits who had responded to a public appeal for help.

They will be put through their paces at training sessions in October, when experienced volunteers will also boost their skills at a refresher.

Mr Ansell said: “The response was brilliant. We have at least ten or 15 people which is a good result. When we started this three years ago we tried to keep it low key. But with Facebook and Twitter and the general amount of interest that has become ridiculous.

“So the more we can get the message across for people to keep their distance the better.

“We need 30 wardens each day so that is a lot of people - the more we get the better it is for everyone.”

The breeding season runs from October to January when a volunteer beach closure is put in place.

Allowing visitors to enjoy the spectacle while balancing the needs of the animals and minimising disturbance falls to the volunteers.

They also look out for sick or injured seals and talk to the public about the animals and the work of the Friends.

Extra wardens are needed when the schools break up and on peak days like New Year’s Day and Boxing Day.

On the whole said Mr Ansell, 80, who is volunteering for his 12th year, the seals dont take too much notice of people but the mother needs to have undisturbed access to her pub for three weeks.

The Friends welcome new members and donations to help with posts, ropes, signs and stretchers among other things.

More volunteers are still needed

■ To find out more about Friends of Horsey Seals visit our www.friendsofhorseyseals.co.uk, email fohswardens@gmail.com or phone Peter Ansell on 01493 748516.

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