Watch drone footage of seal pups on the Farne Islands
The first Atlantic grey seal pups of the season have been spotted on the Farne Islands.
Last year seal pup numbers reached a record high of 2,737 - an increase of 57% over the last five years.
The sighting of the first pup of the year triggers the start of the seal pup count by National Trust rangers.
The rangers count the seals every four days once pupping season begins, weather permitting. Once born, they’re sprayed with a harmless vegetable dye to indicate the week they are born.
Ranger Thomas Hendry commented: “We wait until the first pups are born and then begin the process of counting and marking all pups born on the Islands.
“A lack of predators and a plentiful supply of fish – has helped bolster our seal pup numbers in recent years.
“Over the next few years we will monitor the effect of a growing seal population to manage the island habitats accordingly.”
Following a successful trial last year, rangers will use a drone to help make the count more accurate and less stressful for the seals.
Thomas continued: “The drone gives us an excellent view of the islands and from the clear images we can count the total numbers of seal pups on each island. As the footage is taken whilst we are spraying, we use the image counts to check against the numbers we get on the ground.
“It also allows us to see onto the smaller islands which are more challenging to land in difficult sea conditions.”