Watch out for seals ... if the weather allows it

Atlantic grey seals. Picture by George Ledger
Atlantic grey seals. Picture by George Ledger

Now that the first seal pups have appeared along the north Northumberland coast, a wildlife charity is encouraging the public to be vigilant.

Meanwhile, the seals living on the Farne Islands may be getting a bit lonely as the weather has put paid to most of the boat trips over the past couple of weeks.

As reported by the Gazette last week, the first seal pups of the year have been born on the islands, which house the largest Atlantic grey seal colony in England.

Boat trips from Seahouses to the islands were due to start last Monday, but the National Trust’s lead ranger David Steel told the Gazette on Tuesday that the weather has meant that there had been just one day of sailing out of nine.

However, he added that it is meant to calm quickly, allowing plenty of trips before they end on Friday, October 31.

Visit www.nationaltrust.org/farne-islands for more details.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust is warning that some seal pups may turn up on beaches along the coastline as they learn to swim and feed.

In circumstances such as this, their mother is usually not too far away and it is perfectly normal behaviour, so the wildlife charity is urging members of the public who spot any young seals basking on the region’s coastline on their own, not to panic and to simply leave them alone.

The biggest risk seal pups face at this time is unnecessary disturbance, so dog owners are asked to ensure that their animals are kept under control and away from any young seals.

The Trust is also asking for help from anyone who may come across a dead seal during a visit to the coast.

The Atlantic grey seal is a notified feature of the Berwickshire & North Northumberland Coast European Marine Site (EMS), and, because of the international significance of the Farnes population, it is important that numbers are monitored.

There is growing concern over an apparent rise in numbers of deaths, but this has not been formally monitored.

Anybody who finds a dead seal is asked to contact Aurelie Bohan, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s living seas officer, on 0191 2846884 or email her at Aurelie.bohan@northwt.org.uk with details of the exact location and, if possible, a digital photo of the dead animal to help establish the cause of death.