On the coast of Norfolk you’ll find some of the largest grey seal colonies in the United Kingdom. Grey seals come to shore to give birth from November to January (times vary around the UK) making it an ideal time to photograph them in their natural environment and see their insanely cute pups, often days or even just hours old. If you’re fortunate you may even be lucky enough to witness a birth.

Grey seals are born with a trademark fluffy white coat and for the first 3 weeks of life they are completely dependent on their mother’s 60% fat-rich milk. A mother can recognise her pup from the large crowds by its individual smell and call. Pups need to regularly suckle from their mother for roughly 3 weeks, allowing them to gain enough weight for good chance of survival, increasing their weight from 15kg to a 45kg!

During the pupping season males also come ashore to find a mate, and ensure the next generation of seals. Often they will fight over territory for prime breeding locations within a group of females. The most aggressive and dominant bulls can mate with several females in one breeding season and a grey seal gestation period is around 11 months. Mothers will return to same stretch of coastline the following year for the process to start all over again.

Walking along the shore seals litter the beach and adjacent sand dunes as far as the eye can see. There’s no other experience quite like seeing thousands of the same type of animal in one place. Grey seals have an array of fascinating behaviours and often have many anthropomorphic facial expressions making them a truly amazing characterful animal to photograph.

If you’re planning a visit please make sure you seek advice from the seal wardens so you can responsibly watch or photograph this amazing wildlife spectacle without any harm coming to the wonderful seals. The bond between mother and pup is strong and mums will get defensive if you venture too close, causing her unnecessary stress (and they will attack!)

Please don’t get too close, by keeping at least 10 metres distance. If mothers feel threatened they can abandoned their young, causing unnecessary pup deaths. It’s hard enough as it is to ensure the survival of their young with harsh winter storms washing pups out to sea separating mothers from their young. Pups can also sadly die from hypothermia if their white fluffy coats get wet as it isn’t waterproof and regulating their temperature is difficult.

All my photos have been taken with a super telephoto lens to maintain a safe distance.

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