Norfolk Biodiversity

A Pup-ular Season

seal pup by neil winston symonds

A Grey Seal pup playing peak-a-boo (Credited to Neil Winston-Symonds)

We have all been hoping for a white Christmas and we got one, but maybe not the one you were expecting. As you have probably heard, this is the time of the year for newly born Grey Seal pups, which fill the North Norfolk Coast with their beautiful white coats. And what’s really encouraging, has been the increasing number of births that have been seen over the last 10 years in Norfolk, of which this year is no exception!

Seal Pup Increase

“In 2001 just 25 grey seal pups were born here. This year the number is likely to be heading towards 2000!” (Bill Landells, Volunteer, National Trust)

Amazingly, it has now surpassed all expectations, reaching 2,349 according to the National Trust’s, Point Pup count. Plus, there is still plenty of time for more, with approximately 20 pups being born per night! Why not see the National Trust’s blog (here) for the latest news on this years pupping season at Blakeney Point? Grey Seals have their young between November and January, so perfect timing for a post-Christmas visit!

seal pup and mother by itv

Seal pup and mother (Credited to ITV)

However, recently a photographer was caught inches away from a newly-born pup, which is potentially very harmful. The truth is, mothers may abandon their pups if people get too close, or attack someone who invades her territory. So please do keep a good distance and dogs on a lead, both for your and the pups safety. If in doubt, the Friends of Horsey Seals have some guidelines to help.

So now for a quick Pup Quiz. Answers are at the bottom of the post.

1. Who weighs more at birth, a seal pup or a human baby?

2. How much weight do pups put on per day? (Bear in mind, their mothers milk is 60% fat)

3. Is a pups white coat waterproof?

"Waterpoof or not, I am nice and warm" (Credited to Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

“Waterpoof or not, I am nice and warm” (Credited to Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

Interestingly, they grow up to be Britain’s largest living carnivore, coming in at over 3 metres in length and 300 kilograms fully grown! Also, Britain has the largest population of grey seals in the world, with approximately 36% of the global distribution.

The best places to see them in Norfolk are: Blakeney Point, which has overtaken Donna Nook in Lincolnshire and the Farne Islands in Northumberland to be England’s largest seal colony this year, while another popular spot to visit is Horsey Gap. For more information on how to see them, of which the best way is probably by boat, click here.

In addition, our colleagues in Norfolk Trails have produced a set of Winter Walks (here), of which one takes you on a circular walk around Blakeney to make it lovely day out along the Coast.

So, do go this Christmas season and enjoy the seal pups, and let’s hope that 2015 brings about another successful pupping season!

From Norfolk Biodiversity have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


1. Seal Pups. They weigh approximately 30lbs (14 kilograms).

2. Pups put on 2 kilograms per day!

3. No, they have to wait until they moult before they are ready for a swim.


About Matt Thorne

Works in Environment, Transport and Development at Norfolk County Council

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This entry was posted on December 23, 2014 by in Christmas, NBIS, NBP, Norfolk Coast, Norfolk's Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , .

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