Support our seals
The British population of grey seals is of great international importance and we are fortunate to have a small but thriving colony here on the Lincolnshire coast.
A peaceful scene ... a grey seal pup with its mother.
Please don't endanger them by getting too close.
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.
Grey seals are normally found at more remote sites, notably in the Hebrides and Orkney and choosing popular Lincolnshire beaches does bring its own risks, especially at the vulnerable time of pupping. Danger can come from the most well-meaning person as well as from the mindless idiot.
Female grey seals, or cows, usually stay quite close to their single pups throughout the brief weaning period but disturbance by humans or dogs can cause them to abandon the white-coated pups. An abandoned pup has very little chance of survival. Occasionally, however, young pups are left alone, with the mother returning after a short trip out to sea and all pups are deserted by the time they are three weeks old. They then moult into their adult coat before hunger drives them out to sea for the first time.
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 the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust or a local seal/animal hospital such as those at Skegness or Mablethorpe.
The 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.
Seal pup with mother
Pups in danger
The pups are suckled on land by their mother. She may have one pup a year, and she'll be over six years old. The pup grows very quickly, but it is in great danger, left exposed on the beach.
Probably one of the most common hazards to the pups. This can happen on the large spring tides or if the pup is disturbed and frightened into the water.
Females will leave the pups to go and feed at sea. If there is a lot of disturbance the cow will not return to the pup often enough to feed it.
The young pups are very prone to infection, especially to the eyes and respiratory tract.
If the cow is severly 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.
Ill or weak pups are very susceptible to predation by crows and gulls. They usually kill them by pecking out their eyes.
Grey seals at home
Grey seals, also called Atlantic seals, have been breeding on the Lincolnshire coast since the early 1970's. They are probably related to the Farne Islands colonies. Pupping here is less stressful than a rocky shore, with less territorial battles.
The pups are conceived in the shallows, or on the beach, in November. 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.
Pups are born with white coats and suckle from their mother for about 2 to 3 weeks. After that, the mother leaves the pup and goes off to the shallows to mate again for next years pup. 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.
|Please do not approach a pup you think is abandoned. It's mother often leaves it all day while she is at sea, only returning at night to suckle it. She may have already gone back to sea by the time you check in the morning.|
Please also remember that seals are wild animals and will bite if they feel threatened!