Grey seals on the agenda for sanctuary

A grey seal pup at Donna Nook.
A grey seal pup at Donna Nook.

During the winter season, the team at Natureland Seal Sanctuary have been keeping a watchful eye on all creatures in trouble but particularly grey seals, who gave birth to their pups just north up the coast at Donna Nook.

Often around this time of year, grey seals and young pups can get into trouble through illness and rough seas but the general public and staff at the sanctuary are on hand to spot those in need.

Earlier in December, a grey seal pup was rescued and was fondly named Mo after Mo Farah, still carrying on with the sanctuary’s Olympic theme for names.

At present, Mo, is outside in the seal hospital pool, taking fish from the water and said to be doing well, see picture above.

In fact, each year at Donna Nook, North Somercotes, during the autumn/winter time, hundreds of grey seals or Atlantic seals begin hauling themselves onto the sandbanks to give birth to their pups.

The bull seals normally arrive at Donna Nook in early November, waiting for the females to arrive when they give birth to a single cream-coloured pup.

After birth, pups are suckled for a few weeks, which allows them to triple their weight and gradually they will lose their cute white coats.

Usually by the end of January, it’s all over and the seals are back on their way. (See pictures, right, of some of the seals currently snapped at Donna Nook).

The grey seal is larger than the common seal and it spends more time at sea.

The main threats to seals in the wild is human activity.

In some parts of the world seals are still hunted for their fur and blubber.

Seals are also at risk due to over fishing, chemical pollution and discarded ropes, nets and fishing lines which the seal can become entangled in.

Meanwhile at Natureland, the staff have still been caring for a common seal, rescued on December 28.

“It is still in the seal hospital and has got rid of some of the lungworm, but it is still poorly but starting to look a little better,” said Duncan Yeadon for the sanctuary.

One of the other former poorly residents is Zara, another common seal pup who has made slow progress to put on weight and is still in the hospital pool but is said to being doing fine generally.

“In the rearing pool are Victoria, Kelly, Chris, Bradley and Greg,” added Duncan.

“They are all doing well and we are just waiting for them to reach release weight. Bradley and Greg should be ready next week.”

And one common seal from the Wash has also been making the news, after it is thought to have swum more than 50 miles up a flooded river to an RSPB nature reserve, where it is now happily swimming in a lake.

The exploring creature was seen in a lake at Fen Drayton Lakes Reserve, in Swavesey, Cambridgeshire.

“It isn’t unusual for seals to go into rivers or lakes - we’ve been called out to some in this area, including the Witham, to a seal pup which was spotted but it proved to be too quick for us and hopped back in,” said Richard Yeadon commenting on the news.

“As long as there is plenty of fish and food, then they can get on well,” Richard added.

The RSPB are said to be watching the Cambridgeshire seal and there is no cause for concern at present, even though the mammal surprised people filming it nearby, because it was seen leaving the river and hopping over the bank, into the gravel pit area.

But it is said to be happy in the lake with plenty of food and is not a threat to any other wildlife and may leave the area in the same way as it came in.

Common seals or harbour seals are usually found around sandy coastlines, with the largest single colony in the Wash.

Why not visit the seals, fish, birds and all the creatures at Natureland Seal Sanctuary, North Parade, Skegness.

It is currently operating reduced winter admissions prices.

Admission is: adult £5, child £3 (ages from three-15) under threes are free and OAPs are priced at £4.