Late October into November is an exciting time as FoHS members and seal wardens wait for the first of the season’s grey seal pups to be born at Horsey.
This year six pups born in the final week of October failed to survive, but on the afternoon of 2nd November a seal warden spotted the pup in the picture below, alive and tended by its mother, and the count on 2nd November recorded 34 pups all doing well.
More births followed in quick succession and by 23rd November the number of pups had risen to 665. One week later the total reached 962 – and counting!
Horsey’s first surviving seal pup of 2017-18 season. Photo by kind permission of Hilda Stephenson.
Another huge increase in the following week brought total births recorded on Thursday 7th December to 1,471.
The count on Thursday 14th December showed the overall number of pups on the beach reducing as older pups completed their moult and started adult life. Pups born since the previous count, raise this season’s births to 1,643 – 343 more than in the same week last season.
By 21st December, with the exit of mature pups from the beach continuing, the number of births were also down. Pups on the beach were recorded at 1125, and adults seals 768. Total pups born so far this season was up to 1,643. The season is drawing to a close, but a few more births are still expected.
28th December: Lovely sunny morning with 534 pups, and 450 adult seals on the beach. Total pups born this season had reached 1,811. We were very grateful to the ladies of the Winterton team who counted yesterday in the rain, snow and wind.
A few more births were recorded by the seal counters on the grey and wet morning of 4th January 2018 raising the total of births for the season to 1,820. These might be the last pups born this season, but will there be more?
And, indeed there were! On Thursday 11th January! In fact another four new pups were found since the previous count.
138 pups on the beach (mainly weaned), 348 adult seals. I new born must have been missed last week as the season’s total now stands at 1825.
Of the pups on the beach, 124 were weaned, 4 new born and 10 were suckling.
The large number of adults suggests they could be the start of the moult haul-out. Most of them were grouped together between groynes: 22-23 (Pillbox), 36-37 (Crinkle gap), 38-39 (left of viewing platforms), and 43-44 (Bramble Gap).
The season’s final seal count, delayed by winds of up to 80 mph, took place in sunshine on the afternoon of 18th January. No new births were recorded since the count of the previous week, so the total number of pups born this season stays at 1,825 – 299 more than in 2016-17.
81 adult seals and 41 pups remain on the beach.
Weekly reports of detailed seal counts are available to members on the Members page. Click on the Members tab and select Project Updates from the dropdown menu.
If you would like to become a Friends of Horsey Seals member, visit our Join Us page for joining information.