Video: More than 2,000 seals born at Blakeney - making it the largest colony in England, and the jewel in Norfolk’s winter tourism crown
- Credit: Archant
For Norfolk people its beauty is well known but now Blakeney Point has taken on new significance after it was revealed it is home to the largest seal colony in England.
And now the colony is promising to become one of the jewels in Norfolk's winter tourism crown attracting visitors from far and wide to see the seals in their natural habitat.
Thousands of fluffy, doe-eyed little seal pups have been born this year at the National Trust-owned site. Pupping season has seen 2,126 grey seals make their way into the world, overtaking Donna Nook in Lincolnshire whose count on Sunday was 1,760.
Boat trips to see the iconic colony have become popular with tourists and wildlife enthusiasts, and with whale sightings reported elsewhere on the Norfolk coast, marine activity has been drawing visitors to the county.
Pete Waters, brand manager at Visit Norfolk, said the seals contributed to a year-round visitor economy for Norfolk.
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He said: 'Having the largest colony is a great tourism boost for Norfolk, we would encourage people to come and see them while they are here.
'They are part of our fantastic winter wildlife safari.'
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The seal colony has grown from a small group of just 25 in 2001, increasing each year by 25pc and last year 1,566 were born.
National Trust coastal ranger Ajay Tegala, who is among those who count the pups each week, said people travelled from across the country to visit the seals.
He added: 'It looks like there is still space for the seals to spread so there is no reason why the number shouldn't increase next year.'
He said reserve's new status as the largest colony in England would further 'put Blakeney on the map'.
Norfolk's Blakeney seals are joined by hundreds more further along the coast at Horsey.
And cementing the county's status as a go-to destination for marine wildlife spotting, crowds armed with binoculars, cameras and telescopes gathered at beaches from Cley to Sheringham last month to follow the progress of 28 long-finned pilot whales.
It was the first live sighting recorded off Norfolk, and followed several sightings of a humpback whale off the coast at places including Mundesley, Sea Palling and Happisburgh.
Norfolk-based Wildlife Tours and Education owner Carl Chapman witnessed the whales, and praised the marine conservation zones for having a positive affect on the growth of the seal colonies.
'All along the coast the wildlife is bringing tourism into Norfolk,' he said.
Mr Chapman he had seen people travel from as far as New Zealand to view the county's wildlife.
Pups will leave the point after about four weeks but tend to return to where they were born.
The western-most mile of beach and dunes on the point are currently fenced off for the breeding season, which runs until February 1.
Visitors are advised to look at the seals from organised boat trips from Morston but if people do walk on the point, they should stay clear of the boundaries and animals and keep dogs on leads.