Visiting the Seals at Horsey
Published: Monday 27th Jan 2020
Written by: Isobel Taylor
If you are lucky enough to be visiting Norfolk in the Winter then visiting the Grey Seal pups is a real must. From November to the end of January seals descend onto the shores of Horsey and Winterton to give birth to their pups. With one of the largest seal colonies in the country, this sight is one rarely matched elsewhere across the nation.
Walking along the dunes of Horsey and Winterton can be an amazing way to explore the beauty of the Norfolk Coast but the level of interest in the seals has, in the past, lead to pup fatalities.The Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS) was set up in 2011 to protect the seals from human intervention and to educate the general public about the seals, so that we can learn to appreciate and respect the animals.
The FoHS have put together some top tips to enjoy the seals, respecting them in their natural environment and ultimately, have a great day out!
Stay at least 10 meters away from the seals at all times (bull seals are aggressive and can move much faster than you can run).
Between November and the end of January each year the FoHS shut the beach to the public to allow the seals space to nurse the newborn pups.This doesn’t mean you can’t come visit them though! FoHS have created roped paths and viewing areas where you can still get a great view of the little pups.
Never get between a mum and her pup, this puts yourself in danger and can lead to her abandoning her pup.
Don’t chase the pups into the water, those with white coats are not waterproof and will not survive in the water.
- FoHS advise that dogs be left at home as this can put both the seals and dogs in danger (seals can bite too!).
If you do decide to bring your dog, keep them on a close lead at all times.
FoHS launched a new campaign last year to emphasise the harm litter, in particular plastic, can have on the seals.
Seal pups are just as inquisitive as your little ones. When they find items such as flying rings (frisbees) in the water they start to play with them, often getting their heads trapped in them. As young seals grow these flying rings start to dig into their flesh, affecting their ability to hunt for food and survive.
Three of these ‘necklaced’ pups have been found on the beaches at Horsey and Winterton and have had to be taken for treatment.
FoHS understand that using these flying rings is great fun and a fantastic way for everyone to enjoy healthy outdoor exercise. They recommend that you use the frisbees up the beach, in an area where it is not at risk of landing in the sea.
Seal wardens are present at Horsey throughout the pupping season if you would like to find out more or are concerned about a seal.
Alternatively, if you see a seal in distress (injured, caught in plastic etc) please call FoHS - 07706 314514 or the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.