Record number of seals born at Blakeney Point

The number of grey seals born at Blakeney Point in Northumberland has increased one hundredfold in just 14 years.

Gloucestershire floods

Blakeney Point, a stretch of the North Norfolk coast managed by the National Trust, has become the largest breeding site for grey seals in England.

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The number of seals born there has increased one hundredfold in just 14 years, when the first 25 pups were born on the spit.

National Trust rangers monitor the colony by tracking and recording seal pups born at Blakeney Point throughout the winter. The count, which began in November, revealed that a total of 2426 seals were born this season, almost double the number born there just two years ago.

Ajay Tegala, National Trust Coastal Ranger at Blakeney, said: “This season has been absolutely incredible at Blakeney. It’s breathtaking to see such large numbers. Having first been here five years ago you can see how much it has increased in such a short space of time. It really is mind-blowing to see the change.

“Blakeney is a perfect site for grey seals, not least because of the absence of predators and the relative remoteness which keeps disturbance to a minimum.”

As well as grey seals, the rare habitat of sand dunes on the shingle ridge at Blakeney Point attracts unusual plants, insects and birds, making it a popular destination for walkers. However, disturbance caused by walkers during the breeding season increases the chances of fighting amongst the adult grey seals, which can lead to pups being crushed.

To help prevent disturbance to the seals National Trust rangers have fenced off the westerly-most mile of Blakeney Point’s beach and dunes and introduced viewing areas.

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The new series of Winterwatch begins on Monday 19 January and will offer a closer view of the colony, using thermal imaging to film the pubs being born.