Urgent warning to stay away from seal pups

People on the beach standing close to seals

People have been photographed getting too close to seals on Horsey and Winterton beach. This can cause upset to seals and even physical harm to people. - Credit: Friends of Horsey Seals / Jane Eastwood

Visitors of beaches in Norfolk have been warned to keep their distance from seals as there are dangers for both animals and humans.

Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS) - a charity dedicated to protecting seals - is warning people about the danger of getting too close to seals on Horsey and Winterton beaches.

Flyer for Friends of Horsey Seals.

Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS) have warned people to avoid getting too close to seals on the beach. It can scare the seals, meaning that pups could be abandoned, and it can even lead to seals harming people. - Credit: Friends of Horsey Seals

There are particular concerns for the safety of children and families with dogs who have been photographed standing and even sitting within a few feet of seals.

Adult common seals can weigh up to 370 kilos and, if spooked, are likely to head for the sea in great numbers, potentially knocking over or crushing anything in their path.

With an increase in staycations, many more people are heading for Norfolk’s beaches and FoHS feared that it was only a matter of time until someone was seriously injured.

People on the beach standing close to seals

People have been photographed getting too close to seals on Horsey and Winterton beach. This can cause upset to seals and even physical harm to people. - Credit: Friends of Horsey Seals / Jane Eastwood

Common seals come ashore at this time of year to rest, digest their food, and groom their coats.

They give birth in the summer, mostly at sea, but come ashore with their offspring to rest.

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Sometimes pups are left alone, while their mothers take to the sea to feed, and normally she will return, so it is vital that they are left alone and not disturbed.

FoHS said groups of people crowding around a pup could frighten mother seals off. As a result, pups were likely to starve.

When seals feel threatened, they may bite.

People on the beach standing close to seals

People have been photographed getting too close to seals on Horsey and Winterton beach. This can cause upset to seals and even physical harm to people. - Credit: Friends of Horsey Seals / Jane Eastwood

Peter Ansell,  chairman of FoHS, said: "We recommend that people should stay at least 10m away from them at all times.

“Apart from the distress and disturbance this sort of behaviour is having on the seals, we are worried that if people continue to get too close to the seals for whatever reason, there is a very real danger of someone getting seriously hurt." 

FoHS is a volunteer-run charity that recruits and trains seal wardens from the community for the pupping season between November and mid-January.

In addition, the RSPCA trained FoHS Recue Team works all year round to save sick and injured seals.

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