Surge in seal pup sightings on Lancashire shore

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If you go down to the shore today, you might get a big surprise.

Reports of seal sightings in Lancashire waters have been flooding in from wildlife enthusiasts across the county, including a young seal spotted near Heysham.

On Saturday, the Dobson family from Overton spotted a baby seal at high tide at Sunderland point, and on the same day, Anchorsholme residents Melanie Smith and Mark Taylor helped rescue a seal pup stranded on Cleveleys shoreline.

The youngster – believed to be only a few months old – had become separated from its mother and RSPCA experts said it would have died within hours without help.

The upturn in sightings has prompted some to question whether Lancashire’s waters are changing to become more seal-friendly, but Dr Emily Baxter, North West marine conservation officer, doesn’t think so. She said: “It’s not too unusual to see seals in Lancashire’s waters.

“They tend to move around a lot and the seal population is doing very well at the moment, partly because they are protected in many areas.

They tend to move around a lot and the seal population is doing very well at the moment, partly because they are protected in many areas.

Dr Emily Baxter

“There are big sites for grey seals at Walney Island and in the Dee Estuary, with breeding sites in Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man and Northern Ireland, but they can travel hundreds of miles to feed.

“It’s quite normal to see them popping up in the Lancashire area to feed and for the pups to rest on the shores while mum goes to find food. I’ve definitely seen them at Rossall Point.

“Often people will see seals on a beach and think they’re in distress but most of the time they’re just resting and they’re fine, so it’s best to leave them alone and watch and see.”

It’s not the first time that seals have caused a stir in Lancashire. In 2007, flocks of people descended on the Ribble Valley when Murphy the Seal took up temporary residence on the banks of the Ribble at Ribchester.

SIGHTING: A seal pup at Heysham

SIGHTING: A seal pup at Heysham