Men caught on camera 'encircling and harassing' a young seal

Men harassing seal central Yarmouth beach

The two men were reportedly harassing the seal on Yarmouth beach, but "changed their behaviour" when they saw they were being filmed - Credit: Submitted

A wildlife enthusiast has slammed the "sickening behaviour" of two men caught on camera "encircling and harassing" a seal on the Norfolk coast.

Jack Ellis-Leek, a Great Yarmouth local who founded the Facebook group Wildlife & Environmental Awareness Worldwide (WEAW), said he was contacted by a member of the public on Easter Sunday who had concerns for the seal's welfare.

The member of the public claims she saw two men kicking and pestering a young seal resting on the sand at Yarmouth's central beach.

When they saw she began filming, they seemingly "changed their behaviour" and "acted like they were merely trying to help it get back in the water".

Mr Ellis-Leek said he then made his way down to the beach to keep an eye on the seal, which he imagined would be under some duress.

"I saw it bobbing its head in a patch of stones and it seemed quite young", he explained.

"It was blending in around 5m from the water, obviously trying to hide from any threats.

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"The two men in question had left the area and it was worrying to think they could have caused real damage.

Jack Ellis-Leek

Jack Ellis-Leek runs the Wildlife and Environmental Awareness Worldwide Facebook group, which now has 1.2k members from over 90 countries - Credit: Jack Ellis-Leek

"Even if they were trying to get it back into the water, they were taking all the wrong and potentially fatal steps to do so.

"Touching the seal or pushing it with your feet not only risks your own safety but could cause the seal stress and internal injuries.

"Getting too close to a seal alone can kill it because they get so disorientated."

The seal on Yarmouth beach

Jack Ellis-Leek "kept an eye on the seal" for two hours after he first received reports it was in distress - Credit: Jack Ellis-Leek

Mr Ellis-Leek, who sat and watched the seal for two hours until it was dark and he was the last person on the beach, said he asked approaching families if they could put their dog on the lead while they crossed paths with the seal.

"The reactions I got were great", he said, adding that it was frustrating there is a small minority of people who do not seem to heed well-publicised advice to strictly "leave the seals be".

He said: "Plastic pollution, fishing lines and netting is bad enough in the area, so the last thing we need is people thinking that attacking our seals is okay."

Just three days ago, the Friends of Horsey seals issued an "urgent message" asking the public to stay away from the animals over Easter.

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