'Pack it in': North Tyneside Council issues warning after seal harassment

Dog attacks and members of the public throwing stones at the animals have reportedly endangered the lives on seals in the Whitley Bay area. Credit: North Tyneside Council

North Tyneside Council has urged people endangering seals to “pack it in” following reports of dog attacks and harassment across the coast.

On Tuesday afternoon, the local authority’s X, formally Twitter, account urged people to stop harassing seals following a reported incident at Briardene, Whitley Bay, last Sunday.

The council’s X message read: “We’ve had reports from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue that people have been harassing seals by:

- Getting too close to them and taking selfies with them

- Allowing their dogs to attack them

- Throwing stones at them

“Please pack it in, if people keep doing this the seals will stop hauling in.”

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) was called out to Whitley Bay’s Briardene on Sunday, following reports of people throwing stones at a seal.

Darren Martin, marine mammal medic and area coordinator Tyne and Wear for BDMLR, said the seal was not injured.

However, the seal was surrounded by people trying to take photographs, he added.

Since October last year, Mr Martin estimates he has been called out around 40 times to deal with reports of public harassment to seals, and between six to twelve times for dog attacks, from Cambois to Seaham.

Dog attacks can leave seals with deep lacerations on their rear flippers, which can require veterinary attention and antibiotics.

If the bones in the flipper are broken, it can mean they are put down because it is unlikely they can survive out at sea.

Mr Martin, 62, of Forest Hall said: ” I would tell people not to go anywhere near a seal, never touch a seal.

"It is against the law to touch a seal unless you have a licence like us. Phone Marine Rescue then they will send out a medic if a seal needs a medic or if it just needs moving on.

“If you see there is a seal around put your dog straight on a lead until you get past a seal and make sure you have a call back system as well.”

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