Grey seals are returning to our coast to give birth to their pups.
And after only a few weeks, these pups will head-off to sea to prepare to live an independent life.
Inevitably, some will turn up on beaches as they learn to swim and feed. Usually their mother won’t be far away.
Now Northumberland Wildlife Trust is urging members of the public who spot any young seals basking on the region’s coastline not to panic and to leave well alone.
The biggest risk they face is from disturbance, so owners are asked to ensure any dogs are kept under control and away from young seals.
The Trust is also asking for help from anyone who may come across a dead seal during a visit to the coast.
As the Atlantic grey seal is a notified feature of the Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast European Marine Site (EMS), because of the international significance of the Farne Islands population, it is important that numbers are monitored. There is growing concern over an apparent rise in the number of deaths, but this has not been formally monitored.
The wildlife charity is working with the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St. Andrews, the EMS and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to investigate the cause of seal deaths along the Northumberland Coast.
Some are shot, some are diseased and some are thought to die as a result of injuries caused by contact with ship propellers.
Should anybody find a dead seal, they are asked to contact Steve Lowe, Head of Conservation at the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, on 0191 284 6884 with the exact location and, if possible, a digital photo of the animal to help establish the cause of death. Although a post-mortem is more accurate, this method will also be valuable.
Steve said: “This sounds like a particularly grisly project but we think it is an extremely valuable approach that visitors to the coast can help with. The Trust receives random reports of dead seals from the public but we hope this will increase reporting rates and help to establish what factors have the greatest impact upon seal numbers.
“Northumberland is lucky to host such an important breeding population of these animals, a feature that attracts many tourists to the area. The county therefore has a huge role to play in conserving this species and it’s important that we know what if affecting that in both positive and negative ways”.