Every winter, just a few miles away, hundreds of female grey seals return to Horsey beach to give birth and provide a wonderful sight much enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
Grey seals are larger than Common seals, have long pointed heads and speckles on their coats. They arrive in large numbers starting from October-November and their pups are generally born a day later. They certainly have the “cute” factor with fluffy white fur and big dark eyes. They grow very quickly and can put on 2Kg per day, fed on a rich diet of milk which is 60% fat and after only 3 weeks their mothers will leave them. Over the next few weeks they do not feed, relying on their fat reserves, but will moult their white coat to become fully waterproof and eventually make their way to the sea where they have to learn to feed themselves.
Here in Britain, we’re very lucky that nearly half the world’s population of grey seals are found around our coastline so their protection is of international conservation importance. They are very vulnerable during the pupping season and visitors are asked not to get too close as mothers are territorial and will abandon their pups if disturbed. Every year, many pups will end up at local rescue organisations after being abandoned by their mothers or even drown having been pushed into the sea by visitors who think they are doing the correct thing seeing a pup alone on the beach.
The seals at Horsey are monitored by a voluntary organisation, Friends of Horsey Seals, who ask that visitors remember they are wild animals and have a nasty bite. Please avoid walking on the beach close to the seals and ensure that all dogs are kept on leads – there are marked viewing areas along the dunes to keep both seals and people safe. More information can be found here.