One of my favourite yearly visits is to Donna Nook in Lincolnshire, England – UK. Thousands of Atlantic Grey Seals can be found here between October and December. The seals spend much of the year in the water or hauled out nearer the sea but come ashore during the winter months to give birth to their pups and to mate.
The area is wardened by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and volunteers. It is due to this that the Atlantic Grey Seals are able to return to the same place each year. The fencing is a barrier preventing visitors from causing too much disturbance which makes it a safe area for the seals to give birth, feed their young and mate. The seals have also become habituated to human presence – meaning they have got used to it over time – even feeling comfortable enough to give birth and leave their pups right up against the fence line. Photo opportunities not to be missed!
Fighting between males is often seen – as well as females trying to fend off the males.
The mothers will give birth to a pup and feed it up for 3 weeks. She will then leave it on the beach while she goes back to sea. From this point onwards the barrel shaped pups have to fend for themselves. They will lose weight daily and moult their newborn white fluff before being ready for the big wide world.
It is truly amazing to see this wildlife spectacle and it has certainly become more and more popular over the years that I have been going. It is so important to remember that these are wild animals and they should be respected as such. They may look cute and cuddly but have sharp teeth and are probably just as happy as I am when disturbed from my sleep (which I can tell you – isn’t very!!).
It isn’t just the harm to you; interaction with a pup can cost it it’s life – a different scent can cause the mother to abandon the pup.
In order to continue being able to witness the seals on their breeding beach; visitors must follow guidelines set out by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and have the common sense and courtesy to keep voices down and children under surveillance.