Posts Tagged ‘Grey Seals


Bully Boy

We were transfixed. Watching the seals interact was fascinating. There’s a lot happening on Norfolk beaches at the moment.

Much has been in the media of late concerning the disturbance of Grey Seals. A pup was allegedly chased into the sea by children this week. It drowned as seal pups must undergo an initial moult before they enter the sea so they can contend with the chilling water. Another seal pup was surrounded by selfie-takers to a point where it’s mother completely abandoned it. Indeed it is illegal to kill, take, injure or cause injury to a Grey Seal under the Conservation of Seals Act (1970) (unless it’s damaging fishing nets) Some of the ignorance I have seen in the past is beyond my patience. However, observing (and photographing) from the dune tops it’s obvious the seals themselves have not read the legislation.

As is often the case a young seal was left temporarily by its mother. However, the little chap was seeking attention from anyone and anything that was close-by. Unfortunately, having been rejected by a succession of females the little mite tried to latch on to a large bull. The bull was nothing less than chased by the youngster. The bull repeatedly lolloped away, as only large Grey Seals can, only to be followed to and fro by the whining little pup. The bull eventually tired of the pantomime, picked up the pup by the spine and threw it a good three metres down the beach. Needless to say the pup was not undamaged by the interaction and suffered some life threatening wounds.

The moral of this story is: “keep away from the seal pups”. They have enough to contend with without any human disturbance. There are more African Elephants on the planet than there are Grey Seals. If the beaches were full of Elephants would we tolerate disturbance? The winter beaches in Norfolk are our Serengeti. It’s a world wildlife spectacle. Something we should protect, respect and watch in awe … from a distance.


Atlantic Greys

These adult Atlantic or Grey Seals were popping up around our boat the other week. When it comes to seals think ‘dog’ in terms of curiosity. They will always come close to check us out.



It’s that time of year again and those blonde babies are once more appearing on the beaches. The reason Grey Seal pups are white at birth is a hangover from the ice age when they would have been camouflaged among the ice. Camouflaged against predators. So far the seals in Norfolk have been predator free. However, it’s only a matter of time until an Orca finds the rookeries here. This was one of the first pups to be born on Blakeney point this year. Taken on a photographic tour last weekend.


A face only a mother could love!

Out with Derek & Jim Temple on the boat at Blakeney the other day. Not too many Grey seals on the point (they are all at Scrooby Sands) but what were there made entertaining viewing. One in particular had one of those faces. A good haul of Red breasted Mergansers too.


A juxtaposition of events

We went to watch ‘Kong – Skull Island’ the other night at the cinema. Give it a miss; thin non-captivating plot, mediocre acting and CGI worthy of no more than a computer game. It was a late showing so we drove back home quite late at night. I like driving in the dark. We went by the scenic route. Country lanes, field edges, roadside copses and overhanging trees. It was mild too. I expected badgers, deer, rabbits, hares and the odd owl. What did we get? … a single, lonely moth. Just the one!

And yet … earlier in the week we had been for a walk along the dunes to see the Grey Seals hauled out on the beach. We didn’t count them all but it was plain to see there were a lot. We estimated there to be 3000 over a mile or so of beach. It wouldn’t have been far from the true number. This is more than I’ve ever seen before… anywhere. The tide was high and it was a weekday with few people and dogs around. Seals will have been pushed here from the sandbanks off Yarmouth and there was little disturbance to push them back into the sea here so numbers would be at a peak. 3000 equates to 1% of the world population. Even this weekend when things were much busier with people I did a more accurate count on a lower tide and there was 1426. Less than half the number than a few days earlier but that’s still a lot of seal flesh perched on the sand. Nothing less than a wildlife spectacular. A scene from an Attenborough episode.

What a juxtaposition of events.

When we have such spectacles and numbers it’s easy to think everything is ok. To think things are on track; that nature is in balance and our wildlife is safe.




A trip out with Temple Seal Trips a week last Sunday was enjoyable. Derek and Jim, the crew and skipper, certainly make the trip as good as it is!

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Among the Seals

Among the moulting seals the other day were a few little visitors; sort of litter pickers of the beach. These Sanderlings ran among the much larger seals taking tasty morsels from the sand but also occasionally from the seals!



What not to do at a seal rookery


Grey Seal Rookery


Every day is a school day

The books I have read about seals always state that Common Seals are good parents; staying with their young for some time as they learn about the world around them with weaning taking longer than their Grey cousins. It is Grey Seals that are cast as the poorer parents. Grey seal mothers are documented to abandon their pups at just short of three weeks when their offspring are carrying enough fat to get them through the next three weeks as they teach themselves to swim, catch fish and feed. The mothers get lured into mating with the beach masters before dispersing. This is how it’s told in such excellent books as ‘Seals’ by Sheila Anderson; my seal bible. You certainly get the impression therefore that Grey Seal pups change to a silver grey coat when the free meals stop and every pup becomes a beach orphan fending for itself. I have spent a lot of time with seals over the past ten years, Grey Seals  in particular, and indeed this is as I’ve seen it myself … up until one weekend before Christmas.

I always use Jim Temple to travel out to the Blakeney point rookery. Temples in Morston are in my opinion the best of the operators on offer and Jim and his crew always do their best to give people a good and informed visit and I’ve always seen them treat their guests with care, patience and politeness.

We were out with Temples, during the weekend in question, in the still waters of Blakeney Harbour and the dunes, beaches and sea were full of seals, and I mean full.

I caught sight, among the many, of a pup with mother in the water. The pup was obviously a freshman in the sea. It behaved awkwardly moving with little grace but in an excited manner; it had found its element and was learning the ropes not on its own but under the watchful eye of its mother. She would keep herself between her pup and us at all times and pushed her offspring from underneath as it occasionally succumbed to the waves. I was left with no doubt she was teaching her young to swim. This is totally at odds with what I’ve understood and observed previously.

Every day is a school day!

2014 12 15 Grey Seal Blakeney Norfolk_Z5A5907 2014 12 15 Grey Seal Blakeney Norfolk_Z5A5986



Pupping Season

It’s that time of year again. The Grey Seals have started to pup their way through the winter. The beaches around Norfolk are now starting to fill with creamy white young seals that will quickly fatten to become the round balls of fur that all too soon become independent from their mothers.

This pup was one of many on one stretch of beach at the weekend. Having just been born I think his mum was just a tad unsure of what had just happened!

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2014 11 18 Grey Seal Horsey Norfolk_Z5A2202

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Mar 2023


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