Nature reserves closed following tidal surge

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust

The tidal surge on 5 December 2013 exceeded the level reached in 1953, possibly two metres above normal levels, causing serious problems at our coastal sites

Gibraltar Point, Far Ings and Donna Nook were severely affected and are closed until further notice.

The damage to the Visitor Centres, birdwatching hides, paths and fences is now being assessed before the clear-up and repair operation can properly begin. Fortunately none of the sheep or cattle grazing the reserves were lost.

Paul Learoyd, Chief Executive, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, passed on his thanks to all the staff and volunteers who were dealing with this unprecedented situation. He went on to say, "it is hard for individuals who have been directly affected, a number have been forced into temporary accommodation, as well as for those who have committed so much time and effort safeguarding wildlife and wild places in Lincolnshire."

What nature has taken away she will rebuild over time, with a little help from the Wildlife Trust.
Paul Learoyd
Chief Executive, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust

Donna Nook

Two hours before the high tide, the water was already lapping round the foot of the dunes at Donna Nook. The wardens quickly opened the gates, and started cutting holes in the fence so the seals could access the higher ground of the sand dunes.

Seal mortalities appear to be low and lots of mums and pups have thankfully managed to stay together. We are working closely with staff from Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary (hospital) to recover as many abandoned pups as possible.

The seals are now dispersed throughout the sand dunes and viewing area. For the welfare of the seals and visitor safety, Donna Nook will remain closed until all the seals have left the area and returned to sea (likely to be early January).

On 8 December there were about 1,100 pups on the reserve including 65 born this week. This is about 190 pups down on expected estimated numbers for this time. However some pups will have been missed from the count because they are hidden deep in the scrub on the dunes or are outside the reserve boundary, and some of the older pups will simply have gone out to sea a little earlier than the normal five weeks old because of the surge tide.

Far Ings

Long sections of the south Humber Bank were overtopped. All of the pits at Far Ings have been inundated with brackish Humber water except the five Blow Wells Pits to the south of Far Ings Lane.

The Humber Bank itself has been eroded on the landward side and many paths and tracks have been damaged.

The Far Ings the visitor centre suffered minor flooding which has been cleaned up by a dedicated team of volunteers. The access road to visitor centre has been damaged. Fortunately Ness End Farm did not flood.

Gibraltar Point

The saltmarsh and main car park at Gibraltar Point do occasionally flood on the highest of tides but staff had never seen anything like the floods caused by the tidal surge. The tide overtopped ‘The Hump’ (the flood defence at the entrance to the car park) and breached sea defences in at least five places. Seawater flooded into the Freshwater Marsh creating a large lake at least a metre deep.

Many paths are damaged and some remain underwater. The Visitor Centre and Wash Study Centre were inundated with water up to two feet deep and with such force that furniture was moved.