It has to be something pretty spectacular to make anyone get up at 7am on a Sunday morning and drive four hours to the remote north Lincolnshire coast on dreadful roads occupied by appalling drivers – grumble… if drivers can only go 36mph in a 60mph limit they should NOT be on the roads! Yesterday, for me that spectacular thing was the chance to see grey seals hauled up among the mudflats and dunes of Donna Nook where they come to have their pups at this time of year.
The UK is lucky enough to be home to 60% of the world’s population of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus, which means hooked-nosed sea pig), so as a nation we have a responsibility to cherish and protect them. Aren’t they magnificent?
The weather was grim with a stiff, cold wind blowing squally showers in directly off the North Sea, so we rugged up in our warmest clothes. The seals are equipped with thick blubber and fur to protect them against the worst of the weather.
It is early in the pupping season – the best time is late November to early December, but already 127 have been born on the beach here and we saw lots of heavily pregnant cows lying among the dunes. Last year 1070 pups were born here, so this season we can expect many more of these lovelies to come!
Storm surges along the east coast of England last Friday affected the seal rookery at Donna Nook. The tide rose abnormally high and waves pounded the dunes. Wardens reported seeing seals and pups being tossed about in the surf and being smashed against the protective picket fence.
This little pup, perhaps about seven days old, was discovered by wardens on Friday having lost its mother in the waves:
It cried pitifully, looked hungry and lonely and had some nasty cuts.
As it hadn’t been able to find its mum again, a warden told me that this morning The Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary will come and collect it to care for it and hopefully give it a chance to return to the sea. Good luck, little one!
Photos: Moth Clark