Urgent appeal for volunteer wardens to help protect Horsey seals

A Friends of Horsey seal warden during pupping season at Horsey beach. Photo: FoHS

A Friends of Horsey seal warden during pupping season at Horsey beach. Photo: FoHS - Credit: Archant

A charity has put out an urgent call for warden recruits to help protect Norfolk’s seal communities during pupping season.

Sealsl pictured at the Norfolk coast during pupping season. Photo: Mike Harmer

Sealsl pictured at the Norfolk coast during pupping season. Photo: Mike Harmer - Credit: Archant

The charity Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS) is launching an appeal for more volunteers to get involved in the “amazing natural spectacle” of seal pupping by protecting the animals from unnecessary human disturbance.

The charity said: “Despite a difficult year for everyone with the Covid-19 restrictions, a record number of grey seals are expected to haul out onto Horsey and Winterton beaches from late October to give birth to their distinctive white-furred pups.

“More than 2,000 pups were born across Horsey and Winterton beaches last year alone.

“People come from all over the world to see this amazing natural spectacle. Seals are packed in close proximity, and there is the extra drama of 300-kilo male bull seals fighting each other for the privilege to mate with the cows.”

Grey seal Galactica was found on Horsey Beach with fish netting wound tightly round her neck. She is

Grey seal Galactica was found on Horsey Beach with fish netting wound tightly round her neck. She is now being rehabilitated through salt baths and antibiotics. Photo: RSPCA - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of thousands visit the Norfolk coast every year to see the seals - but with more even more people than usual opting for domestic holidays following the pandemic, the charity said it has a “responsibility to prepare and be ready” for a possible tourist influx.

They said: “While most visitors are respectful of the seals’ vulnerability and keep their distance, a number of seals die each year after people get too close and scare the mother away leaving her pup to die of starvation.

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“During the breeding season between November and January, the wardens cordon off the beach at Horsey to protect the seals and keep visitors safe. They are also on hand to answer and questions about these magnificent wild animals and guide people to the best viewing spots.”

Other tasks assigned to the volunteer force involve rescuing seals who have become entangled in plastic netting or those who turn up on the beach badly weakened and underweight.Recently, a Horsey seal named Galactica had to be transferred to the RSPCA hospital at East Winch after netting wrapped around her neck revealed a deep wound underneath.Jane Bowden, the FoHS recruitment coordinator, said: “This is why it is important to have enough trained seal wardens available to do shifts when required.

Grey seal Galactica was found on Horsey Beach with fish netting wound tightly round her neck. She is

Grey seal Galactica was found on Horsey Beach with fish netting wound tightly round her neck. She is now being rehabilitated through salt baths and antibiotics. Photo: RSPCA - Credit: Archant

“The wardens do an incredible job in all weather conditions, and there is a constant turnover, which is why we need to recruit more every year. It is an opportunity for individuals to make a real difference.”