Norfolk

Seal pup numbers up at Blakeney Point nature reserve

Grey seal pup at Blakeney Image copyright PA
Image caption Rangers counted 2,366 seal pups at the north Norfolk coast reserve

More than 2,300 grey seal pups have been born at the country's largest colony since November.

The pups have been counted at the Blakeney Point reserve on the north Norfolk coast every year since 2001, when just 25 were born.

The site has seen a "dramatic increase" in recent years, the National Trust said.

"Thankfully the pupping season had finished before last Friday's tidal surge," a spokesman added.

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Rangers counted 2,366 grey seal pups at the reserve since the breeding season began in November - an increase of 1% on last year, when 2,343 pups were born.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Seal pups are born with white coats which they shed after a few months
Image copyright PA
Image caption Last year, this pup and 2,342 others were born at the reserve
Image copyright PA
Image caption Seals come to breed at Blakeney Point as there are wide open spaces and no natural predators

The large reserve is an area with no natural predators, making it a "healthy environment" for seals to return to each year, the trust said.

Although their numbers have been increasing, in the last two years they have become more "static", ranger Ajay Tegala said.

"Thankfully a large number of pups had already dispersed before the coastal surge last week," he added.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Seal pups are born on dry land and rely on their mother's milk for three weeks
Image copyright PA
Image caption Seal pup numbers are becoming more "static", only increasing slightly since this one was seen on the beach a year ago

Seal pup numbers are also up at other breeding sites.

A record 2,295 pups were counted on the Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast, which may have been a result of fewer winter storms, the trust said.

A further 1,959 pups were born at Donna Nook, a reserve managed by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.

Grey seal pups, which are white when born, feed on their mother's milk for up to three weeks, during which time they triple in size.

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