Seal pups survive 350-mile journey
Published 14/01/2011 | 09:06
Three seal pups have survived an "incredible journey" 350 miles across the North Sea after being swept away from the Farne Islands in stormy weather.
The National Trust said a baby seal which had been marked with a coloured dye on November 30 was found in the Netherlands on December 13, making the pup just 14 or 15 days old when it was discovered hundreds of miles from home.
David Steel, head warden on the Farne Islands which are managed by the National Trust, said: "It was far too young to be swimming in the North Sea. Staggeringly, it made this 350-mile crossing to the Netherlands. It's an incredible journey."
Two more pups were found in early January and all three are now being cared for in a seal rescue centre in the Netherlands.
They will be released into the wild once they have put on enough weight and could potentially return to the Farne Islands or another UK colony in the future.
Although grey seal pups can swim at an early age, they do not usually leave the breeding colony until they have weaned and moulted their white coats at around three-and-a-half-weeks-old.
Around half of the pups born to the 3,800-strong colony of seals on the Farnes each year die from drowning, and Mr Steel believes the stormy weather in late November and early December would have swept these youngsters far out to sea.
"These little guys were pushed straight across the North Sea and amazingly they survived and managed to reach the Netherlands," Mr Steel said.
Wardens on the Farne Islands mark pups with coloured dyes, using a different colour for each count. Two of the seals had a blue dye, putting their birth date around November 30, while the third had a yellow dye, showing it was born in mid-November.
This year, 1,499 seal pups were born on the Farne Islands - the highest number since 1974.