Seal pups lost to deadly storm surge

Seals at Horsey before the storm surgeJohn M Saxton took this photograph of the seals at Horsey shortly before the tidal surge struck

Hundreds of grey seals have been lost on the north Norfolk coast due to the deadly storm surge, say experts.

The National Trust, which supports volunteers at Horsey Gap, issued a statement confirming 263 seals have been lost from the beach.

The charity urged visitors to the area not to interfere with the pups and allow the colony to recover naturally.

The white coats of young pups are a common sight on the beaches at this time of year.

Volunteer group Friends of Horsey Seals monitors the seal population at Horsey Gap nature reserve.

A spokesperson said: “We were powerless to do anything to rescue any of the pups as we could not put any of our wardens in danger.”

The National Trust has been unable to access the national nature reserve at Blakeney Point, where it manages common and grey seal colonies, due to “extensive damage” to footpaths and bridges.

‘Serious concerns’

Female grey seals give birth throughout the autumn months and routinely battle with the elements to raise their young.

Experts recommend that the seals are left to recover on their own, so pups separated from their mothers have a chance to reunite without additional stress.

The RSPCA said five seal pups, including common and grey types, which had been found washed up between Great Yarmouth and Cromer were taken to its East Winch Wildlife Centre.

It said it had “serious concerns” about colonies along the east coast of Norfolk.

Inspector Nicola Thorne said: “The geography along this stretch of coast means that it can take a while to find them when they are washed up.”

BBC News received an email from a woman who wanted to warn others of the upsetting sight of the dead seals.

“We were about to visit Winterton beach for a walk with our children but have had to come away because of the very distressing sight of dozens of dead seal pups,” she said.

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