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Seal colony at Horsey heads for another record year

PUBLISHED: 10:34 18 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:35 18 December 2017

A grey seal and her pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A grey seal and her pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The seal colony at Horsey continues to grow and spread with another best-ever year recorded.

A grey seal pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireA grey seal pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A new record of 1,643 grey seal pups has been recorded, topping 2016’s record of 1,500 at the beach between Great Yarnmouth and Cromer.

On the down side, however, it means space is at a premium with more pups scattered at the outer reaches of the colony, un-monitored and vulnerable to disturbance by dogs off the lead.

Peter Ansell, chairman of The Friends of Horsey Seals, said the main message this year was for people to be on the alert for pups beyond the roped-off area.

This year they were stretching from Waxham to Winterton, and while volunteer patrols did their best they could not cover the total area.

Grey seals on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireGrey seals on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Dog walkers parking at Winterton are being urged to walk towards Hemsby to avoid stumbling along mothers and their pups.

The youngsters were only suckling for three crucial weeks and the mothers were fiercely protective, he added.

When the Friends first started 12 years ago there were less than 100 born - and every year since the colony has grown.

Mr Ansell, 82, said the wildlife spectacle continued to be a huge draw for local people who were mostly well behaved and respected the need to keep a distance from the animals.

A grey seal and her pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireA grey seal and her pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Bulls could be aggressive and females were very protective and there was a risk of getting bitten.

“When we go to the beach to rescue an animal there is always three of us,” Mr Ansell said.

“They do threaten but I have never had one go for me.

“But they do not like being picked up and put on a stretcher and they will bite if they get a chance.”

A grey seal pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireA grey seal pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A proportion of seals were still-born every year and some were accidentally killed by warring bulls.

So far this year only three had been abandoned by their mother and taken to East Winch in Kings Lynn.

Numbers were also up at Blakeney Point on the north Norfolk coast, with 2,598 pups counted on Monday - exceeding the previous record from 2014.

The most recent count at Donna Nook nature reserve in Lincolnshire put the tally at 1,984 grey seal pups born - more than the 1,957 counted last year.

A grey seal pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireA grey seal pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A grey seal pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireA grey seal pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A grey seal and her pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireA grey seal and her pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A grey seal and her pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireA grey seal and her pup on the beach at Horsey Gap. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

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