Norfolk seals 'fared better than feared' in storm surge

Injured seal in Norfolk The RSPCA said it had treated about 40 injured seals at its East Winch Wildlife Centre

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Seals thought to have been lost on the north Norfolk coast due to last week's storm fared better than feared, experts say.

Hundreds of seal pups, which cannot swim or survive without their mother's milk, were feared lost along the coast.

But the National Trust and Friends of Horsey Seals say assessments of the coastline show things are "better than first thought".

Many seals managed to get to higher ground, the National Trust said.

It said the "vast majority" of more than 1,000 seals and pups at Blakeney Point "survived the extreme tidal surge".

'Dire consequences'

Victoria Egan, countryside manager for the Norfolk coast, said: "We hope people will join us in being delighted that the majority of these resilient creatures survived and we hope to be able to carry out a full count in the coming days.

Injured seal in Norfolk The storm came in the middle of the "pupping season", the RSPCA said

"Many of the seals will have been displaced from the colony and we know a number of people have spotted them.

"We strongly urge anyone who sees a seal or pup to please stay well away from them, they are wild animals and must be allowed to behave in their natural way."

Ms Egan said mothers would search for their pups, but not if people were around.

"Having survived such terrible weather conditions, any human intervention now could have dire consequences, no matter how well intentioned," she said.

Friends of Horsey Seals said it had seen about 180 pups on the sand dunes with their mothers.

A spokesman said some bulls had also been driven onto the dunes and should not be approached.

"A lot of sand has been scoured from beneath the seawall creating a large drop," the spokesman said.

"The bulls, given a choice when confronted, would move towards the interlopers rather than face a large drop onto the beach."

The RSPCA said it had taken in about 40 injured seals at its East Winch Wildlife Centre since the storm.

Alison Charles, manager of the centre, said: "This couldn't have happened at a worse time for the seals, as we are right at the height of the pupping season.

"We've never had to deal with anything like the conditions we saw on Thursday."

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