It’s not often that reports of less births in a wildlife population is reported as good news; indeed generally this is indicative of a more worrying trend amongst threatened species. However the National Trust were pleased to find that this year the population of seals which have inhabited their reserve have parented around 80 less pups.
Grey seals began colonizing the spit off the Norfolk coast in the late 1980’s where few births were anecdotally observed. In 2006 a new standardized method of counting births came into use and recorded 213 pups; what followed was a huge success story as that number of births jumped to a high of 2,426 in 2014.
However population growth of this level cannot be sustained forever as the habitat can only support a certain number of individuals. The fears were that the level of births would continue to rise dramatically leading to the seals colonizing further along the coast and becoming harder to protect.
Ajay Tegala, National Trust ranger, said: “The seals have filled the key habitats on Blakeney, so it’s good news the population has stabilised this year. If they continued to spread into the dunes and along the beach towards Cley, this would make them harder to protect.” There is already anecdotal evidence of Blakeney Point seals colonising new habitats including the Thames and Northern France, suggesting that their current habitat is overpopulated.
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