Donna Nook Weekly Seal Update

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Friday 13th October 2017

A very early first pup has been born, beating earliest Dunes pup by 9 days. There will be hundreds more in November, so don’t all rush down to see this one! At the moment, there is a solitary cow and pup, so she is very vulnerable to disturbance and she is within the bombing range danger area, so if you visit, please stay on the dunes and behind any temporary barriers.


2016 Summary

The first pup was born on 24 October. Ropeneck returned on 16 November to her usual place on the beach. Peak season was on 28 November with 686 bulls, 1502 cows & 1630 pups. A fantastic day, even the turnstones were putting on a display!

By 19 December about 75% of the seals had left. The high tides that week left lots of pools on the saltmarsh and the pups had a great time splashing about. By New Years Day there was just 1 bull, 1 cow and 8 pups seen from viewing area.

Total pups born this season was 1,957 - that is a 3% increase compared with the previous season.


2015 Summary

The first seal pup was born on 25 October 2015.
Ropeneck returned on 13 November - in the same place and exactly same arrival date as last year - she give birth to a pup on Tuesday 17 November. Numbers of seals present on the beach peaked in late November (on 30 November there were 650 bulls, 1542 cows and 1754 pups). Numbers then began to decline as the seals headed out to sea.
On Sunday 3 January 2016, there were just 16 pups left in the viewing area and no adult seals.
Total number of pups born this season: 1,892. A 5% increase on last year.
A huge thanks to all our fantastic volunteer wardens, who put in a total of 2096 hours – that’s almost 300 days! Thank you to all our visitors for following our Visitor Guidelines and for your donations.

2014 Summary 

The first seals, a few bulls and a solitary cow could be seen from the viewing area on 20 October.
The first pup was reported on 25 October, he was born overnight and kept hiding. Brent geese and shelduck were feeding on the mudflats, skeins of pink footed geese were flying overhead and some exhausted whooper swans also arrived.
On Monday 1 December the numbers of pups reached a peak of 1,541. The number of seals on the beach started to decrease as they began to leave and head back to sea.
By 3 January 2015, there was just one cow and 12 pups left in the viewing area.
Total count of pups for the season for entire reserve: 1,798. 

2013 Summary

The first Dunes pup was born on 23rd October 2013. Pup numbers peaked with the count of 29th November, when there were 1528 pups. The last pup was born on 18th December. The total number of pups born was a record 1,676 and the surge is not expected to have a long term impact on the seal colony.

The season was dominated by the meteorologically-induced surge which combined with the already high spring tide of 5th December, caused widespread damage and disruption to both the seals and site infrastructure. The surge added approximately 2m to the predicted tide height and reached well into the dunes beyond the double fence. Gates in the fence were opened to allow seals to reach the safety of the dunes and further gaps had to be cut as the water level rose and wave action increased.
The seals were severely disrupted but there is little evidence of widespread mortality.

The seals at Donna Nook are counted once a week and it is impossible to say how many of the adult and pups had returned to sea at the time of the surge. In many cases cows were able to stay with their pups, despite being displaced all along the coastline. Regular monitoring was maintained for several weeks following the surge tide, with 37 pups being taken to Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary for care before their release, and others being captured and released on the beach, or left to find their own way out to sea as appropriate.

The viewing area will be open again for the next seal pupping season in late October 2014 and work is still in progress to ensure that seals and people are protected.

For more information please visit the Coastal Flood Appeal pages.



FilenameFile size
See the Seals Safely - An Evaluation Report for the Heritage Lottery Fund2.04 MB




A-Z of Wildlife

Photo of Brent Goose

Name: Brent Goose

Scientific name: Branta bernicla

Category: Waterfowl

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