Seals of Approval

Seals at Donna Nook are a big attraction for visitors.
Seals at Donna Nook are a big attraction for visitors.
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Apparently, the grey seal colony at Donna Nook on the East Coast attracts 60,000 visitors every year.

And the bulk of those visitors are heading for the dunes beyond North Somercotes about now.

The reason? It’s the height of the seal birthing season.

The first pups started to arrive in October.

By the start of January, there could be be more than 1,500 of them.

Not surprisingly, the pups - and their mums and dads - are a massive lure for visitors, young and old.

Sandra Dyson, from Market Rasen, was among the visitors last Saturday with her son Elliott (6) and daughter Sophie (9).

Sandra said: “We come three or four times every year and the children think the seals are wonderful.

“You have to wrap up and, a couple of weeks ago, it was pouring with rain when we were here but the children still wanted to see them.

“They’ve told a lot of their friends and now they come as well.”

Eliott added: “I like the seals and I’d love to have one at home.

“I told my dad we could keep it in the bath but he said it wasn’t allowed!”

Husband and wife Keith and Janet James were staying at a guest house in the Louth area. They asked the owner what was worth seeing and, 30 minutes later, were viewing the seals.

Keith, from Kent, said: “We’d no idea they were here. We were going to go to Lincoln but that can wait.

”The seals are wonderful, such characters.”

The site is owned by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, who do a tremendous job.

It can’t be easy dealing with the thousands of visitors, particularly as the access roads are remote country lanes.

There is a viewing platform and a pathway which cuts through the dunes giving very close access to the seals.

Not too close, though, as adult seals can be very protective of their offspring. Male seals – called bulls – can be very aggressive.

The Trust’s advice is to observe the seals from a distance and not to climb over fences.

Dogs are also banned as female seals have been known to abandon pups if they detect a smell of humans or dogs on them.

All the signs suggest 2015 could be a record year.

In 2013, there were 1,528 pups born at Donna Nook. In 2015, the figure rose to 1,798.

Last week, the count stood at 649 pups – along with 378 bulls and 956 cows.

And yes, staff from the Trust do count the seals every week!

As for local businesses, they are counting their money.

According to latest figures, nature tourism brings in £58m every year for the county and supports 850 jobs. The adorable grey seals of Donna Nook play a big part in that.

Advice to visitors from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is:

• Stay within the viewing area behind the fence

• Strictly observe all red flag and other bombing range warnings

• Don’t get too close to the seals

• Never feed or pet the seals

• No unaccompanied children

• No dogs

• If possible, visit during the week.

• Please be considerate when visiting: park only in designated areas

• At weekends, the narrow lanes and car park get very congested

Visitor facilities:

• There is a small car park at Stonebridge (maintained by the local authority). A private operator provides an overflow parking area

• There are no public toilets in the car park. The nearest public toilets are in North Somercotes village

• Catering van (private) operates through the season selling hot drinks and food

• Places to eat and stay are available in North Somercotes and the local area

• See the village website and Lincolnshire Tourism for further information

• Organised parties should be booked in advance. Contact the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Headquarters on 01507 526667, email info@lincstrust.co.uk