With the flutter of flippers in full flow on the Farne Islands, rangers are hoping for another successful breeding season for the Atlantic seal.
The islands’ first pup of the year was born on September 27, heralding the start of the season, with the majority of pups usually born in October and November.
And as this year’s seal-breeding season gets underway, the National Trust is once again offering visitors the opportunity to get up close to these fascinating mammals.
Home to England’s largest population of Atlantic grey seals, numbers on the Farnes are increasing every year. More than 1,600 seal pups were born on the islands last year, an increase on the previous year, taking the total population to 4,800.
Although the pups can swim at an early age, they don’t normally leave the breeding colony until they have been weaned and moulted their white coats.
And visitors aboard designated seal tours are now able to see first-hand the challenges faced by a young pup in its first few weeks of life.
Head ranger David Steel said: “There isn’t anywhere else in England where visitors can get as close as this to Atlantic grey seals, particularly during the pupping season.”
The tours, all weather permitting, will continue until the end of the month.
For more information, go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/farne-islands