Back in 1988, the Blakeney Nature Reserve in Norfolk recorded the first birth of a grey seal pup. Since then, the reserve has become England’s largest seal colony.
When compared to the grand total of 25 pups born there in 2001, you realize just how much the Blakeney Nature Reserve has grown as a seal colony over the years. So, why has this particular reserve been such a successful breeding ground for grey seals?
According to the National Trust, the colony has been thriving because of the lack of natural predators inhabiting the reserve. Plus, with humans largely staying away from the reserve due to 'you know what', the conditions at the reserve in Norfolk have never been better, which is setting the stage for a fantastic breeding season. In fact, the National Trust is expecting a record-breaking baby boom of 4,000 grey seal pups this winter.
National Trust ranger Leighton Newman said: "When the seals first started pupping here it was really important to count the pups to help us monitor the health of the colony. "More recently, however, the density of the colony has increased hugely and walking through the colony is now not safe."
Norfolk isn’t the only place in the British isles where grey seals are thriving: out of an estimated 300,000 grey seals globally, British and Irish waters are believed to support 40 percent of the global population of grey seals.
Information from this year's count will be shared with the Sea Mammal Research Unit at St Andrews University to help estimate how the mammals are breeding across the UK. The team at the reserve hopes it will be the start of "more in-depth research" into the colony which would provide "a greater understanding of these curious creatures".