Record year for Norfolk’s seal colony

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

Grey Seals on the beach at Horsey.October 2014Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

It is one of our region's great natural spectacles. And now, wildlife volunteers say the Horsey seal colony has seen its best breeding season on record.

Grey Seal colony resting on the beach at Horsey, NorfolkFebruary 2010Picture: James BassFor: FilerEa

Grey Seal colony resting on the beach at Horsey, NorfolkFebruary 2010Picture: James BassFor: FilerEastern Daily Press © 2010 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010

The record count of 1020 – give or take a few either way – was the highest number since the Friends of Horsey Seals took over organised patrols 12 years ago, when the figure was just 50.

The total was around 150 up on last year but experts have not pinpointed an explanation for this.

It is thought some seals may have arrived in the area from Scroby Sands, which were regularly flooded, while fish stocks have been plentiful.

Peter Ansell, chairman of the friends group, said he was delighted with the tally and that there was a real feeling of satisfaction among the dedicated team of volunteers who protected them.

Grey Seals on the beach at Horsey.A seal pup.October 2014Picture: James Bass

Grey Seals on the beach at Horsey.A seal pup.October 2014Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014


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The breeding colony draws tens of thousands of people from November to January. Mr Ansell said wardens would be in place seven days a week next season to cope with the crowds.

With space at a premium, some mothers have been raising their young outside the fenced-off area, making them more vulnerable to disturbance. There are also concerns that coast protection work at Horsey could have an impact on where the creatures settle.

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Mr Ansell said: 'They seem to be going up by more than 100 each year. It is the most since the 12 years we have been doing this. When we started there were fewer than 50.'

The colony suffered a death rate of around 7pc due to stillbirth, crushing, and abandonment, among other things.

Of the seals that did make their way out into the waters, around 40pc will die in their first year.

Are you involved in a wildlife scheme? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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