Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Isle of Man survey identifies 14 new seal pups

Grey Seal pup
Image caption Seal pups have only one month to wean themselves off their mothers

Grey seal pups living off the coast of the Isle of Man are being counted as part of an annual survey.

A wildlife project has identified 14 new seal pups near the Calf of Man, as well as several pregnant females.

The annual pupping season runs throughout the autumn months and experts expect to see around 40 new pups born each year.

Marine officer Eleanor Stone said:" Two of the mothers are raising what we know is at least their fourth pup."

She added: "A team of volunteers will continue the survey for the next four weeks, to get a full picture of the whole pupping season."

A warning was recently issued ahead of the breeding season.

'Sharp teeth'

Officials from the Manx Wildlife Trust said pups may look harmless but they have extremely sharp teeth and can be aggressive if approached.

"Although they look cute and harmless, pups have sharp teeth and can be aggressive, so we would urge people not to approach them," said Ms Stone.

"Their mothers are very protective so could also be aggressive if they feel their pup is being threatened. Mothers may also abandon their pups, if they pick up a different scent, for example of a human or dog.

"So if you do come across one on a beach, put dogs on leads and keep to a distance to ensure that every pup has the best chance of survival."

After 11 months of gestation, the pups have just a month after birth to wean themselves off their mother to make a life for themselves in the sea.

Image caption Seal's are extremely protective mothers so should not be approached

Although it is not known how many grey seals live around the Isle of Man, it is thought to be in the region of about 300 at any one time.

During previous surveys, photographs taken of the mothers have proved that the same seals come back year after year to give birth and breed on the rocks at the Calf of Man.

Anyone concerned about a pup is asked to contact the Manx Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA).

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