Friends of Horsey Seals was inaugurated in late 2011 to take over management of a project set up in 2002/3 by Natural England and the Broads Authority. The project aims to protect the grey seals at Horsey and Winterton, Norfolk particularly during the late autumn and winter, when they come ashore to give birth and mate. The charity’s volunteers are also involved throughout the year in the rescue of seals that are sick or in distress. FoHS became a charity in 2016 and now has over 200 wardens. If you are Interested in becoming a seal warden or would like to become a 'Friend' of Horsey Seals, please contact us today. Friends of Horsey Seals is registered with the Charity Commission. Registered Charity Number 1169539
Roughly half of the world’s population of grey seals are found around Britain, their protection is of international conservation importance. It is one of our largest mammals but is still vulnerable to disturbance during the pupping season. Grey seals come ashore at Horsey & Winterton to breed during the winter months. Horsey offers a great opportunity to view the seals from the viewing platforms and for wildlife watching although it is very important to respect the seals and not to disturb them or their environment.
Visiting Horsey is a great opportunity at all times of the year but please be aware that when visiting in winter to see the seals, the track to the viewing areas is likely to be affected by puddles and can be uneven for people with reduced mobility or visitors with pushchairs or prams. Viewing areas are reached by sloping paths with sandy surfaces. There are no toilets on site at Horsey. Winterton is made up of miles of beach and sand dunes.
The Friends of Horsey Seals are happy to welcome pupils keen to learn about local wildlife. We'd also like to hear about any school projects you made be involved in i.e. beach cleans etc. Let us know by emailing email@example.com
First pup born at Horsey
Flowerpot was caught on Horsey beach with a large plastic object around her neck.
Chris and Ann Dalton joined as seal wardens last season, travelling 175 miles, to spend their Christmas and New year break wardening.
By becoming a warden you are helping to support the work we do in protecting the seals from disturbance.
We primarily warden during the grey seal pupping season which is usually between November and January.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.
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East Anglia Parking Services (EAPS) are in charge of the car park at Horsey and set parking charges. EAPS also manage the overflow car park and controls traffic flow during the pupping season. Friends of Horsey Seals (FoHS) does not receive any funding from this.
EAPS are responsible for all services on the site. FoHS have no role in the provision of these services.
The season is from the beginning of November until the end of January every year.
There is a voluntary beach closure between November and January to help stop disturbance to the seals and injury to pups. Seal wardens ask visitors to stay off the beach and use the marked viewing areas. Females with pups are territorial. A pup straying into the territory of another seal can be injured when ejected by the occupant. Females separated from their pup through disturbance will sometimes lose sight of it and abandon the pup. (If you stay off the beach you are setting a good example to other visitors).
We rope off areas of the dunes on the advice of Natural England and the Environment Agency to protect the dunes from excessive erosion and allow natural recovery. Walkers can be a cause of erosion.
We keep an eye on them and, if necessary, contact the RSPCA who decide whether they need treatment or are better left undisturbed. At all times of year we receive reports of adult seals with netting/rope around their necks. Sightings are reported to RSPCA for monitoring. We refer to them as necklaced seals. Catching them to remove the ‘necklace’ is a problem because of their size, and because they naturally make a dash for the sea when approached. FoHS wardens would not attempt to approach a necklaced seal in the seal rookery during the breeding season, as, besides being dangerous, this would disturb other seals and pups. Many necklaced seals live like this for long periods with no apparent affect on their health, and you sometimes see a necklaced mother rearing a pup. If the rope, or netting, cuts deeply into the skin the wound can become infected and the seal can eventually die. If caught and taken into care, RSPCA vets can treat the infection with antibiotics and remove the rope or netting.
If you spot a sick seal, please inform the warden/s on site if during pupping season. At other times, please contact our emergency number (yellow tab) or the RSPCA.
Nothing! It’s sad to see a dead animal but it’s part of a natural process. Dead pups are not removed from the beach. They quickly disappear by tidal action or become food for birds and other animals.
Please ensure you keep at least 10 metres clear of all seals. You should never get between a seal and the sea, a mother and her pup or bulls on the beach.
Seals are wild animals so it’s not possible to give a definite answer, but seals are frequently seen offshore all through the year. About two months after breeding adult seals go through an annual moult, losing their old fur and growing a coat of new fur, which will keep them warm and protected for another year. At Horsey the moult starts in February and continues for about 6-8 weeks. During that time blood-flow to the skin is increased and the seals become more sensitive to the cold temperature of the sea. To conserve heat they haul out and spend long periods on the beach. This saves energy and allows them to wriggle and scratch as new fur grows. During this period it is not uncommon to see a thousand or more seals hauled out along the tide line.
The greatest number of births occurs between late November and mid-December. The majority of visitors come to Horsey during the two weeks of Christmas and New Year when there is plenty to see, but on-site parking is exceptionally busy. You might find it more comfortable to avoid this period.