Lincolnshire

Donna Nook Nature Reserve enjoys record year

A seal moments after being born Image copyright Nikki Dutton
Image caption This seal, photographed seconds after it was born, was one of 1,889 born at Donna Nook Nature Reserve in Lincolnshire this year

A record 1,889 seals were born at a nature reserve, continuing the colony's growth since the 1970s.

Donna Nook, on the Lincolnshire coast, now accounts for 1.5% of the world's grey seal population, with 90 more pups born this year than last.

In 2011 and 2013, dozens of youngsters died when tidal surges hit the coast but the colony has otherwise enjoyed record growth every year.

About 70,000 people flocked to the area to see the seals this year.

Grey seals

Also known as Atlantic seals

1,889

grey seal pups born at Donna Nook Nature Reserve in 2015

  • 1,798 pups born at the reserve in 2014

  • 40% of the world's population of grey seals are in the UK

  • 1.5% of the world's population of grey seals are in Lincolnshire

  • 70,000 human visitors to Donna Nook in 2015

Getty Images

Rachel Shaw, from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, said: "The birth-rate has gone up every year with the number of pups born. The rate of increase is not as high as in the past but it is still growing.

"The pups have quite a low mortality rate and a lot of the pups will come back to the place there they were born when they are ready to give birth."

Image copyright Hilary Middleton
Image caption Grey seals are born white but after they have been abandoned at two or three weeks they shed the fur

The seals spend most of the year at sea or on distant sandbanks but in November and December they come ashore to give birth.

After suckling their pups for two to three weeks, the seals abandon the young, mate again ready for the following year and then head out to sea again.

Eventually, starvation drives the young seals into the water in the hunt for food.

Image copyright Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
Image caption About 70,000 people visited Donna Nook Nature Reserve in November and December

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