When either walking playing or cleaning the beach there is a great opportunity to admire the wildlife that visits and lives there. The best way to do this is to watch them from a distance and disturb them the least you can,just admire them doing their thing in their natural environment undisturbed
Sometimes these animals may be injured or in distress here is a few pointers on what to do.
In this area we are very lucky to have seal colonies there are grey seals which are bigger more robust seals that give birth on shore in the winter. The pups first fur is not waterproof untill they have their first moult at around 5-6 weeks old. We also have harbour seals known as common seals that are smaller and give birth in the summer the pups are waterproof straight away,but they are very vulnerable. Both are a joy to watch and enjoy,but it is vital that you do this at a safe distance. Bull seals (males) can get very large and do tend to fight during mating season,this can be quite graphic and dangerous. Seals can and will bite if they are scared or disturbed too much. A bite from a seal will need hospital treatment and antibiotics for some time due to the bacteria they have in their mouths and around the teeth that can if untreated lead to very nasty infections. Please if you see a seal colony do respect them and give them space. Don`t get too close and do your best not to disturb them. If you have a dog please put them on a lead and explain to children the best way to enjoy them is to be as quiet as you can and watch them nicely without getting too close. This way you can enjoy them with little disturbance to them or any injuries to you and your loved ones.
During the grey seal pupping season between usually the end of Oct to the end of Jan they come onto shore at Horsey and Blakeney point. These beaches are closed off during this season and wardened by volunteers. This is to cause the least disturbance to the seals and keep the public safe too. There are places you can view the seals and viewing points you can get spectacular views without disturbing them. Please do use these points rather then go onto the beach and respect the barriers and what the wardens explain to you. They are there for the good of the seals and the public. Seal wardens are always helpful,polite and as informative as they can be and want you to enjoy this wonderful experience safely for yourselves and the seals. At Blakeney there are boat rides available throughout the year to go out onto the water and watch them.
Seal pups are only fed by their mother for around three weeks,this period is vital for them to be weaned successfully and they need as much of their mothers milk they can get to put on enough weight to be able to survive when they do get weaned. It is very important they are disturbed to the minimum throughout this time. Particularly the grey seal pups as the water and weather is bitterly cold during these winter months and without enough blubber they are unlikely to survive. The fluffy white coat is not waterproof so they will come more inshore as the tide comes in. Once they are weaned they will moult the white fur and get a new waterproof grey/mottled/black adult coat. This is when they will be venturing out into the water by themselves. The blubber they accumulate while nursing keeps them strong until they have learned how to hunt and feed themselves
If you see an injured pup please contact the nearest rescue center which is currently East winch in kings lynn numbers are available on the website. If you see a seal caught in fishing netting or twine or rope contact either East Winch or Friends of horsey seals who will advise you and try to help them. You can also contact the seal and shorewatch group too. Contact details are on their website . It is best not to try and release them unless you have experience and or know the best way to do it. If you do it can make the problem worse as the seal will try to get away from you and become distressed and the netting or twine could tighten cutting into the seal ,you may also get bitten
seal and shorewatch group
RSPCA East Winch Rescue Center
Friends Of Horsey Seals
If you see a pup that may looks stranded please leave it where it is. It may be learning how to feed or swim out in the ocean and also it`s likely the mother seal is close by and could get protective putting you in danger. Seals can get very big and heavy and it is surprising how quickly they can move . If you are concerned please contact the local rescue center and report it. Its always best to let nature do what it has to do if possible. Seals will only be helped if it is absolutely necessary such as severely injured or ill
Some of the other wildlife you may come across are sea birds,if you find one entangled in netting or twine that is still alive then get in touch with the local RSPB who will advise you what to do. If you try to release it yourself it may panic even more and the twine could tighten. We have a variety of gulls,comerants,terns,turnstones and waders in North norfolk. Cley ,Blakeney and holkham have very picturesque nature reserves and bird populations including geese,herons,little egrets,marsh harriers and many more
You may come across jelly fish along the shoreline at certain times of year. Please don`t panic, there are very few dangerous ones in the north sea . The ones you are likely to see in Norfolk are what are known as sea gooseberries. These are small oval jellyfish with grooves along there body,they do not sting and are totally harmless. It is best to just leave them until the tide comes in to collect them they can sometimes be seen along the shore line and look like tiny jewels in the sand. If you see any other jellyfish that are bigger,flatter,coloured ect, you can report them to the marine conservation societies jellyfish list which they are keen for people to do,so they can keep track of jellyfish blooms around the UK coast. Go too www.mcsuk.org to find out more, jelly fish are not only beautiful,but a vital food source for seals,turtles and many others. We have been known to have whales pass through the north sea and turtles too!
Marine Conservation Society
Some times in late autumn early winter spotted dogfish get washed up along places like bacton,walcott and happisburgh. They look like they are dead ,but they are actually alive but have shut down majority of their resources until the tide comes in to get them. They can survive out of water for quite some time, so if you see one please leave it until the tide comes in and please don`t let your dogs go near them!
The best way to see what is in our ocean is to look in the rock pools and along the rocks, You can find crabs,shrimps,starfish,anenomies,limpets,clams,barnacles,sand worms and so may other things. Rock pools are teeming with life. A great place for rockpooling is West Runton ,Blakeney point ,Cromer and Sea palling is great for starfish. Please if you do this ,try not to disturb them, it is best to just watch them ,but if you do catch a crab or starfish please be very gentle and always return them to the sea
So there are a few things about the abundant wildlife we have along our shores and the main reason we do the beach cleans. All the litter floating in our oceans has a terrible effect on the creatures that inhabit our seas and beaches. It is at critical point and every bit of litter we pick up is not going back into the sea! This will help our seas to hopefully recover and give future generations a chance to experience the beautiful biodiversity of our beaches and oceans that we are lucky to have.