Concern over seal pups following storm surge

As the clean-up operation after last night’s storm begins, National Trust teams on the east coast are also assessing the damage that has been caused to wildlife and habitats. Due to the high levels of water still present and the expected arrival of more high tides, it will be some time before the conservation charity will be able to get a full picture of the damage caused.

The North Norfolk Coast ranger team started assessing the impact of the tidal surges at first light on Thursday and have been working throughout the day to gather a full picture, from Brancaster to Salthouse.

Like many others, they have been working in challenging conditions and have been hampered by the extensive damage to footpaths, bridges and shingle. Access to many areas has been impeded, particularly where coastal paths are littered with debris.

However, the Rangers have been exploring the area where they are able to, with their priority being to check on the seal colony, which has been displaced from last night’s floods.

David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust, has issued the following advice for visitors: “There has clearly been a big impact on people and buildings, but nature has been affected too.

“If visitors to the affected areas come across any seals or pups in the aftermath of the tidal surge, please do not attempt to move them or encourage them to return to the sea. The pups are safer on land until they shed their distinctive white fur.

“The seals are wild animals and it is highly likely that any pups separated from the colony will be found by their mothers.

“Our coastal rangers are experienced in monitoring the seal colony and will be surveying the situation once the tides have receded.”

On the Farne Islands there has been some loss of seal pups living on the lower level islands such as on North and South Wamses and Knoxes. However a large number of the colony resides on Brownsman and StapleIsland, neither of which has suffered any losses.

David Steel, Head Ranger of the Farne Islands, said: “Losing pups is never good, especially as we’re powerless when the weather turns. However, thankfully the pupping season is almost over so the loss of life has been far less than if this had happened four weeks earlier.”

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