New Born, Donna Nook
Donna Nook, Lincolnshire
This little one is around three hours old, his/her coat is beginning to turn white.At this stage it's a mixture of blood and sand which causes the orange appearance.
For much of the year grey seals at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trusts’ Donna Nook National Nature Reserve are at sea or hauled out on distant sandbanks. Every November and December, the seals give birth to their pups near the sand dunes: a wildlife spectacle which attracts visitors from across the UK.
Pups start to moult the lanugo (white pup coat) when they are between 2 and 3 weeks old. The face and flippers go first, followed by the rest of the body, to reveal the pup’s first adult coat. The pup remains on the beach for at least another week, probably two. During this time the pup becomes more active and alert playing with other pups and beach debris. They will not feed but will rely on the blubber they have accumulated while feeding from their mothers, losing 1.4kg per day for the first 3 days and then 1kg per day thereafter.
The pup death rate on the beach is about 10%, which is lower than the national average. Abandonment by the mother is the most common cause of pup mortality. The mortality rate increases once the pup is independent and a further 40% may fail to reach their first birthday.