Seals at Donna Nook


It’s pupping time at Donna Nook this month, and next – and it’s always a time of great excitement for both photographers and everyone else.

What some people forget is that these seals are wild animals, and despite how cute the pups look, they are capable of inflicting a nasty bite.  The mothers, over protective, and dominant, can move faster than a person can run – and today, even from the other side of a well made fence, a female growled and plunged at us just for passing.  We were glad we were on the other side of it.

Grey Seal Pup

The grey seal pups weigh about 14kg at birth and have soft white fur. They remain on land where they suck from their mother for 18 – 21 days. A female’s milk contains up to 60% fat, so pups grow very quickly, gaining about 2kg in weight each day. This weight gain consists mainly of a layer of blubber below their skin, which is vital insulation when they go to sea. During the pupping season, male grey seals also come ashore to mate.
The largest males, usually more than 10 years old, compete for a position within groups of breeding females. Occasionally males fight, and may sustain deep scars on their necks as a result.
The fence at Donna Nook, at the foot of the sand dunes reduces disturbance to the seals, and also ensures the safety of visitors.

For your own safety and to reduce disturbance to the seals, please follow these guidelines:

  • 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

Photographers have been seen out on the beach at the weekends, when the range is closed.  Sadly, all this leads to is an encouragement of others (with no fieldcraft or expertise) to join them out there.

Great pictures can be got from the fence line – there is no need to travel further out, and disturb breeding animals.  If a mother seal thinks her pup does not smell right, she will abandon it, and it will die.  Please keep to the designated paths.


The seals, and the Wildlife Trust will love you for it….


Author: Diane Seddon ARPS AFIAP CPAGB BPE3* - D Seddon Photography

I am a retired freelance photographer, based in Louth, Lincolnshire.

6 thoughts on “Seals at Donna Nook”

  1. A good write-up of the seals at Donna Nook, thanks and very well illustrated too. Love the photos. It’s quite amazing how far people travel to view these lovely creatures.


    1. I remember when I lived over Manchester way – coming over on a cold grey day to see them. It was a three hour journey each way, and no bacon van either….. 🙂


  2. Lovely shots Diane and very wise info on visiting to view the seals. It is a shame some people do not abide by the rules and have scant respect for all who come to see the seals and more importantly, disturbing them during a very important time.


  3. Super pictures of the seals Diane & I agree with everything you said regarding visitors safety and, perhaps of more importance, the well being of the seals& pups.
    Many years ago, before the safety fence existed a lady was walking away from the beach along a path through the sandhills. Because there wasn’t a fence the female seals often went into the dunes to give birth, the lady was confronted with a mother seal with her pup! The mother seal attacked her, breaking the lady’s leg and she was badly bitten too.
    These are wild animals!


    1. Thank you David – wise words. We need to be cautious around these powerful animals. They may look cute, but they pack a big bite.


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