The Wild Wight Camera Club have taken a 500-mile round trip from the Island to visit Donna Nook in North Lincolnshire to see seal pups being born in their natural habitat. Each year from the end of October through to December the seals return to the dunes along this part of the coastline and produce their young.
The 10km coastline is part of an MOD target bombing range and is partially maintained by them. The first seal to be born this year was on October 27 and as of November 22 the numbers on the shoreline had increased to 489 bulls,1,629 cows and 1554 pups.
Seals are predators and have very powerful teeth similar to those of dogs. The pups are suckled for three weeks during which time their weight triples and they lose their pale coat. Mothers are very protective of their pups but many are abandoned if they smell of humans, dogs or other unfamiliar scents. The colony return to the sea by January but around 10 per cent of pups don’t make it.
In 2000 one of the female seals got tangled in some rope from a fishing vessel and would have died had she not been rescued on the beach while giving birth. The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and RAF staff cut the rope from around her neck leaving substantial scars.
Since then she has returned to Donna Nook every year, except 2006, to the same place and has now produced her 17th pup. The warden that set her free named her Ropeneck.
All 12 members of the Wild Wight Camera Club enjoyed the visit so much that it will now become an annual event for them. This is one of many trips undertaken by the club and anyone wishing to join them or find out more can find them on Facebook.