Stunning photos show seal pups and their mothers amid plea to keep a distance
- Credit: Laura Lake
Long-lens photos of seal pups and their mothers have provided a stark reminder of exactly what visitors could be jeopardising if they get too close.
The Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS), which looks after Horsey and Winterton beaches near Great Yarmouth during the winter months, has been amassing a gallery of the adorable creatures so that anyone "missing out" on visiting them due to lockdown isn't left wanting.
The group also hopes the pictures, taken from a safe distance, act as a deterrent for anyone tempted to breach the 10m distance visitors are required to keep between themselves and the seals.
If someone gets too close to a pup, the mother could become frightened and abandon her baby. If this happens, the pup will die.
Jane Bowden, a FoHS trustee, said: "Pupping season is getting underway and recently we have stepped up patrols along the beaches.
"Numbers could grow dramatically between now and December, so we're asking people to voluntarily keep behind the chestnut fence we have installed which keeps seals and humans apart from one another.
"As of this morning, the seal count from Waxham to Winterton was 2,466 adult seals and 1,232 pups. Sally Butler and her team record this information at the crack of dawn every Thursday."
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Seal wardens Cheryl and Steve Knight are two such volunteers conducting patrols along Winterton beach.
Mrs Knight said: "I think the issue is that a lot of people want to stroke the pups and take selfies with them. But seals have big teeth and can move surprisingly quickly.
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"We often find seal fur in the dunes from a pup, and we let people stroke that instead. That way, you can find out what it feels like without getting too close.
"People are desperate to experience everything for themselves, but the lives of the pups are at stake."
The RSPCA meanwhile, has issued an unequivocal plea for people to "please, please stay away from the seals".
Alison Charles, manager of the branch's East Winch site, said: "Seal admissions here remain high. We know they are an incredible sight to see, but we must respect nature from a distance.
"If beach-goers get too close, a seal may not reach their first birthday."