From September to November, the National Trust Cymru is delighted to welcome very special guests to the Blue Lagoon in Pembrokeshire.
In recent years, an increasing number of gray seals breed in and around the lagoon and spotting them is an exciting encounter with wildlife that many visitors will not forget. However, the combination of the high number of visitors to Blue Lagoons and its sheltered nature that makes it so attractive to seals, creates a situation where there is a high potential for disturbance for seals.
The time seals spend resting on land is vital to their health and that of their young, as they digest a recent meal, socialize and feed their young. In order to provide them with a safe environment to raise their puppies, National Trust Cymru will close the Blue Lagoon to visitors from From September 25 to November 5.
Visitors will still be able to observe these wild creatures in their habitat from the coastal path, and coasting trade providers who have signed the National Trust Coasting Trade Agreement and received specific training on how to operate around seals, will have always access to the lagoon with groups of visitors having booked in advance.
Mark Underhill, campaign manager for National Trust Cymru, Pembrokeshire, said:
“There are two species of seals that can be found in Britain; harbor seals and gray seals. Only gray seals are present regularly in Pembrokeshire, where they are present all year round.
“About half of the world’s gray seal population breeds on our coastline and the total number in West Wales, mainly Pembrokeshire, is estimated at around 5,000, with some 1,400 puppies born each year.
“The breeding season is vital for our seal colonies here in Pembrokeshire, and we ask visitors not to enter the Blue Lagoon and to follow the guidelines set out by the Seal Alliance and the Pembrokeshire Marine Code when they are on the coastal path. “
Paul Renfro of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum says;
“The Pembrokeshire Marine Code recommends staying at least 50 meters from seals, although they can be disturbed at any distance, so it’s important to be responsive to their behavior.
“If a seal at rest looks up or turns to look at you, then you are close enough no matter how far away you are. Seals can be particularly sensitive to disturbance after periods of stormy weather and during the breeding season, so we recommend that you give them more space at these times.
To avoid disturbing the seals at this very important time of year, National Trust Cymru recommends the following strategies:
- Sssh, keep quiet:
Channel your inner David Attenborough and speak in a low voice and encourage your children to do the same. Loud dogs can scare off seals, so if your furry friend is a bit talkative, leave them at home when visiting a seal breeding area.
- Don’t get too close:
Make sure you stay at least 50 meters away from the seals (three London buses long) and never get between a seal and her cub, or a seal and the sea. This will cause distress to both mother and mother. to the puppy.
- Keep dogs on a short leash:
Keep your dog on a short leash. Do not let them run free or play with balls, frisbees or sticks near a breeding colony, as this will cause them distress.
What to do if you spot a seal in distress:
- If you see a solitary baby seal on a beach, it is probably not in distress. Baby seals are often left alone on the beach while their mothers go to get dinner.
- Never go near the seal. This will cause further distress and may be dangerous to you and the Seal.
- Look to see how many people there are approx. In most cases, when seals are in distress, it is due to contact with curious and well-meaning visitors.
- If you are still concerned, contact the Welsh Marine Life Rescue Conservation Group 01646 692943 or 07970 285086 who will be able to offer you further advice.