The first seal pup of the year has been born on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland Coast, marking the start of this year’s annual seal count.
Every year, over 1,500 pups are born on the islands, which is the largest Atlantic grey seal colony in England. Islands’ resident Rangers from conservation charity the National Trust spend three months each autumn monitoring the breeding seals. Last year, 1,575 pups were born taking the overall Farnes population to an estimated 5,000.
“A typical day for me and the team in autumn includes landing on the Seal colonies to monitor the birth of pups. Once born, we spray them with a harmless dye. This can be quite tricky as the mothers seals are protective and can be aggressive if we get too close. We use a different colour dye each week which enables us to keep a close count.
As this year’s seal breeding season gets underway, the National Trust isoffering visitors to the Islands an opportunity to get up close tothe seals.
From today until October 31, tours will take place daily with boatsleaving from Seahouses Harbour.
“There isn’t anywhere else in England where visitors can get as close as this to Atlantic grey seals, particularly during the pupping season. This is a really special time at the Farnes and one which not many people get to see, so these tours really do offer a unique experience.”
The breeding season for seals on the Farnes can sometimes start as earlyas September with the majority of pups being born in October and November. Although the pups can swim at an early age they don’t normally leave the breeding colony until they have been weaned and moulted their white coats.