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Blakeney Nature Reserve: Record seal pup births predicted

image copyrightPA Media
image captionThe first grey seal pup was born at Blakeney Nature Reserve in Norfolk in 1988

A nature reserve is expecting a record-breaking baby boom of 4,000 grey seal pups this winter, the National Trust has said.

Blakeney Nature Reserve in Norfolk has become England's largest seal colony since recording its first pup in 1988.

In 2019, 3,399 pups were born there, compared with 25 in 2001.

The trust said the colony was thriving because of the lack of natural predators on the long shingle spit where the reserve sits.

In previous years, rangers and volunteers and rangers would walk through the area and count the newcomers, but this technique is no longer safe for the animals or people.

Teams will instead monitor the number of pups in a particular area, giving an indication of what is happening across the colony.

National Trust ranger Leighton Newman said: "When the seals first started pupping here it was really important to count the pups to help us monitor the health of the colony.

"More recently, however, the density of the colony has increased hugely and walking through the colony is now not safe."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionThere are an estimated 300,000 grey seals globally, with British and Irish waters supporting 40% of the total population

Information from this year's count will be shared with the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St Andrews University in Fife to help estimate how the mammals are breeding across the UK.

The team at the reserve hopes it will be the start of "more in-depth research" into the colony which would provide "a greater understanding of these curious creatures".

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Related Topics

  • Seals
  • Blakeney
  • St Andrews
  • National Trust

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