Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Manx Wildlife Trust seek 'seal sitters' to protect pups

Seal pup at the Calf of Man Image copyright MWT
Image caption In 2017, almost 50% of newborn pups on the island were lost in Storm Ophelia

A wildlife charity has started a search for "seal sitters" to help protect pups taking shelter on Isle of Man beaches.

Grey and common seals often come ashore to rest and Manx Wildlife Trust (MWT) wants to ensure they are not disturbed.

MWT marine officer Lara Howe said volunteers would not be expected to intervene, but would be "keeping a watchful eye" on the seals.

She said there was "no limit" on how many people can sign up and the scheme would "continue indefinitely".

She added that stormy conditions, which had been more prevalent in recent years, resulted in younger seals seeking shelter in "more public places" and the trust wants to make sure people and pets do not approach them.

Seals are a protected species on the Isle of Man under the Wildlife Act 1990.

In 2017, almost 50% of newborn pups on the island were lost in Storm Ophelia, but a recent survey by MWT recorded 69 births in 2019.

The scheme will begin in early January, as soon as the first round of volunteers have received training on seals and their behaviours.

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