Beachgoers urged to keep their distance from seals

A group that protects seals on a beach has shared footage of a man apparently “taunting” one of the animals, causing it to go back into the sea, as they urged the public to keep their distance.

Images posted on social media by Friends of Horsey Seals show a group of people, with a young child among them, close to seals at Horsey beach in Norfolk.

One seal goes into the sea after a man walks up to it, crouches down and moves an arm towards it.

Friends of Horsey Seals wrote online: “This type of behaviour is totally unacceptable especially as the majority of seals on the beach are pregnant at the moment.”

People close to seals at Horsey beach in Norfolk
People close to seals at Horsey beach in Norfolk (Friends of Horsey Seals/PA)

They urged people to keep at least 10 metres away.

They warned that seals are wild animals that will bite if they feel threatened, and that they are trying to rest on the beach.

Haylea Allison, of Norwich, who took photos and a video of the group on Sunday evening, said the people ignored her requests to move away from the seals.

She sent her footage to the volunteer group Friends of Horsey Seals, which shared it online.

A man was “taunting” a seal and it “ended up going into the sea”, she said, adding: “It’s just disgusting.”

David Vyse, vice chairman of Friends of Horsey Seals, said: “They’re wild animals and they will bite.

“Not only that, but they’ve come out of the water to rest and it’s anti-social behaviour when you try to push them back into the sea. It’s awful.”

He said seals “will bite you if they’re cornered, they will attack, their mouths are full of bacteria – you have to have a special injection and go to hospital (if a seal bites you)”.

He said signs are in place urging people to stay at least 10 metres from the seals, and that extra volunteer wardens are in place during the school holidays to talk to the public.

Normally wardens are only in place between November and January during the pupping season, he said.

“That’s when the seals have to be protected and not disturbed because if you did disturb them the mother would disappear and the pups could be abandoned,” he said.

“At this time of the year they’re just coming up to rest and we just want to make them have a happier life. They shouldn’t be disturbed.

“We don’t want to turn people away – just keep a safe distance from the seals.”