New group launched to educate people how to behave around seals

Di Westwood, the founder of The Norfolk Seal Project

Di Westwood, the founder of The Norfolk Seal Project which aims to educate people about how to behave around North Norfolk's wildlife. - Credit: Stephen Rowland

A new group has been set up to educate people on how to behave around seals following an increase in wildlife incidents on the North Norfolk coast.

The Norfolk Seal Project will see information leaflets placed in hotels, B&Bs and holiday accommodation along the coast from Snettisham to Holme.

The group has been set up in response to the growing number of seal disturbance issues in the area and hopes to prevent further incidents over the peak tourism season.

A grey seal colony on the Norfolk coast. Picture: James Bass

A grey seal colony on the Norfolk coast. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010

Di Westwood, a veterinary nurse from Inglesthorpe near Snettisham, who has set up the group said: "There's been a massive disturbance of seals and other wildlife on our beaches and it's getting worse over a period of time, now with the season and the increase in tourists it's going to get worse so [this project] is to educate and inform."

Mrs Westwood who volunteers with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue to save seals with have become unwell or need assistance stressed the Norfolk Seal Project was purely to educate people and was not a rescue service.


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She said people often got too close to seals or tried to chase them back into the water, not realising they needed to come ashore to rest or digest food.

An example of The Norfolk Seal projects information leaflets which have been created by the Seal Alliance

An example of The Norfolk Seal projects information leaflets which have been created by the Seal Alliance with support from DEFRA - Credit: The Seal Alliance / DEFRA

Mrs Westwood said: "We have got to share this space with the wildlife, they don't have anywhere else to go but we need tourism, it's really important to Norfolk so we have got to balance it. Taking selfies with letting dogs off leads and chasing birds is not the sort of behaviour we want.

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"Some of these birds have travelled a long distance to come here, the same as seals, they don't need to put back in the sea."

Visiting the seals is a popular Norfolk winter pastime. Here a baby seal pup at Horsey.Picture: Jame

Visiting the seals is a popular Norfolk winter pastime. Here a baby seal pup at Horsey.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass © 2015

Mrs Westwood said that so far, she had received a really positive response from businesses and holiday accommodation companies and said she would like to see the Norfolk Seal Project's leaflets in every hotel or B&B room in the area.

She added: "We hope that we can help the seals as well as educate the public so that they can enjoy these beautiful animals without impacting on them.”


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