About grey seals

The British population of grey seals is of great international importance and we are fortunate to have a thriving colony on the Lincolnshire coast.

Britain has about 40% of the world population of grey seals, also called Atlantic seals. The major British sites occur on remote Scottish islands but the four colonies on the English east coast (Farne Islands, Donna Nook, Blakeney and Horsey) are increasingly important.

Grey seals have been breeding on the Lincolnshire coast since the early 1970's. For much of the year the seals are at sea or hauled out on distant sandbanks but during the winter they come to breed on the beaches of Lincolnshire.

Pups are born with white coats and suckle from their mother for about 2 to 3 weeks. The mother then leaves the pup. She will mate again before leaving the beach. After one week's development, the foetus stops growing for about 100 days, after which it continues to develop and is born the following November. The deserted pup sheds its white coat. After a while, hunger drives it to make its way to the sea to look for its own food.

The pup grows very quickly but there are many dangers for a young seal pup. These include:

  • Starvation - if there is a lot of disturbance from humans and dogs the mother seal will not return to the pup often enough to feed it.
  • Abandoning - if the mother seal is severely concerned due to disturbance or if she is inexperienced, she may leave the pup. Without regular feeding the pup will die in three or four days.
  • Infection - young pups are very prone to infection, especially to the eyes and respiratory tract.
  • Drowning - can happen on the large spring tides or if the pup is disturbed and frightened into the water.

If you find a small seal pup on the beach, do not approach too closely, keep your dog on a lead and certainly never attempt to handle a seal – they can give a very serious bite and a mother may abandon a pup that smells of humans or dogs. If you are concerned about the welfare of a seal on a Lincolnshire beach, please contact a local seal/animal hospital such as those at Skegness or Mablethorpe.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust employs a warden to monitor the seals and with the help of volunteers, our aim is to protect the seals from disturbance, to protect the public against injury and to provide information.

Remember seals are wild animals and will bite if they feel threatened!