Category Archives: news

Seal wardens stand down at end of 2016-17 seal breeding.

Official seal wardening ended at Horsey from 22nd January.   A small number of weaned pups remain on the dunes and beach, and visitors can roam freely on the sands.  

The committee of Friends of Horsey Seals ask visitors to treat the seals with respect, and advise them for their own safety and the safety of their pets not to approach pups or allow their dogs to go close to them.  

For the next two weeks wardens may still be on the beach – you will recognise them by their hi-visibility yellow vests – they will welcome your questions about the seals.

Seal release 6th January 2017 – ‘Princess Aroma’ returns to Horsey

The Return of Princess Aroma.

An adult grey seal was taken off the beach at Horsey in October for treatment at RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre to infected lacerations caused by netting entangled around her neck.  On arrival at East Winch she was given the name, Princess Aroma, a reminder of the overpowering perfume from her wounds which lingered in the transport vehicle. She was returned and released at Horsey on Friday 6th December 2016.

Grown seals are not easy to manage and this one proved nervous and difficult to handle throughout her treatment.  Netting had cut deeply into her skin and the wound was badly infected.  Superb care by the staff and volunteers at RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre resulted in her return to health and she has been ready for release for a couple of weeks.  A really feisty girl, she refused to enter the transporter at an earlier attempt to return her to Horsey and remained an inpatient at East Winch over Christmas.

A second plan to release her on Monday 9th January was brought forward at short notice when she was uncooperative in moving to a pre-release pool on Friday.   Staff encouraged her to go into the transport vehicle which was in a convenient position to collect her on Monday.  Though she was safe in the vehicle, it was better for the seal to bring forward the release, as she demonstrated with her swift return into the cool waters of the North sea when the entourage arrived at  Horsey

These photos show her injury and the netting that was cut away from her neck.


FoHS is extremely grateful to Alison Charles and her team at East Winch for the care they gave to Princess Aroma, and for sending us these 3 video clips of her release at Horsey to share with you.

Watch the release on video.

Princess Aroma was too bulky to be carried to the beach, so she was unloaded from the transport vehicle in Horsey car park at the entrance to Horsey Gap and guided through the gap using ‘pigboards’.  Once back on terra firma she was keen to get moving. 

The Princess is met by a bull seal, but is he Prince Charming? 

The final act, Princess Aroma returns to the North Sea. We wish her well.

The winter issue of FoHS Newsletter is now online

The Winter issue of FoHS newsletter, Volume 3 Number 5 Winter 2016, is now available.

Members, please login and click the NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES entry on the MEMBERS drop-down. The latest newsletter is the first in the list. While you are there, you can take the opportunity to browse all the previous editions.

Non-members, why not join us? Annual membership costs only £5.50 per household and is valid from 1st November to 31st October. It’s a great way to support the work of Friends of Horsey Seals! To join return to the Home Page and select the JOIN US page.

Here’s a question!


Take a look at these photos taken by seal warden and committee member, Hilda, on 13th December.  We are constantly told that female seals give birth to only one pup (per year), they do not tolerate a pup belonging to another seal coming into their ‘territory’, and will not feed a pup that is not their own.  So the question is, are the pups in the photos, twins, or is the mother showing the true spirit of Christmas by helping out another mum?

Careful examination of the photos shows a difference in the colour and size of the pups – the partially hidden pup is whiter than the one in front and appears fatter.  Notice the slightly creamier colour of the front pup, which tells us it is no more than a day or two old.  The fluffy coat is cream coloured at birth but gets whiter over the first few days  – therefore they are unlikely to be from a twin birth. The extra fat on the pup at the back shows this one has had a few days feeding.

We think the mother is being tolerant of the second pup, but the photos don’t actually show the larger one suckling.  If it did suckle, and Hilda might have had a better view and could confirm that, then it’s certainly unusual behaviour – or the milk of seal kindness!

Happy Christmas.

Weekly seal count results

Autumn/Winter 2016-17

Seal pup count report

(More detailed count information is available to MEMBERS on PROJECT UPDATES tab.)  Return to the Home Page and click on JOIN US to find out about membership of Friends of Horsey Seals.

Week No

Count date Adult greys harbour New born pups Total  births Dead pups


27/10/16 250 6 0




03/11/16 310 7




10/11/16 322 0




17/11/16 391 0


5 24/11/16 794 0


 496 13
 6  1-2/12/16  1213 0  395 882 8
 7  08/12/16  1084 0 233 1022  13
 8  12/12/16  1051  0  192  1300  27
 9  21-22/12/16  745  0  89  1397  12
 10  27/12/16 470    25  1422  6
 11  05/01/17 information not received         
 12 11-12/01/17 111    1  1430
 13 19/01/17 217    0  1431
 2016-17 season’s total

(figures are estimated)



(+39 new born deaths = 1526)


A dedicated team of volunteers turns out weekly in all weathers, early in the morning, during the breeding season to gather this information.  The team counts adult seals on the beach, pups newly born (since the previous count), suckling pups and weaned pups.  They also record the dead pups they find, separating older remains from any new deaths since the previous week.  Recognising pups born since a previous count can be tricky since FoHS does not mark pups with dye, as is the practice at some rookeries, and It is difficult to keep an accurate record of deaths because corpses may be scavenged or swept off the beach by tidal action. You will see above that the figures are estimated – these are the reasons.

The committee of Friends of Horsey Seals wishes to thank the counting team and their organiser, Eilish Rothney who also provides the records above, for carrying out this valuable and complex task.