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Tees baby boom marks start of seal watch

Last modified: 12 July 2013

Common seal yawning

Watching the seal families haul themselves out of the water and sunbathe on the mud is a sight not to be missed.

Image: Graham Catley

This year’s RSPB Date with Nature seal watch has got off to a flying start on the Tees estuary, with a seal pup baby boom – and it’s set to be a record year.

Thanks to generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Natural England, staff and volunteers from the RSPB have been running a project to show people the creek’s cutest residents.

The seal viewing season, at Greatham Creek, is officially due to start this Saturday, 13 July, but there is already plenty for visitors to see. The Industry and Nature Conservation Agency (INCA), who carry out the official monitoring of the Tees seal population, report a record breaking 18 healthy seal pups so far.  The highest number of births and surviving pups since counting started in 1989.

Ben Calvert, the RSPB’s information assistant helping visitors find out more about Greatham Creek’s residents, said: “Last year’s Date with Nature was a record-breaking year, with more common and grey seals than ever before making their home at the creek. So it’s amazing that we’re already looking at smashing that record.

“The birth of so many seal pups is a great way to start this year’s event. I think just about everyone loves seeing seals anyway, but the seal pups are something special. They’re always hugely popular with our visitors.”

More pups are expected over the coming weeks and months and the colony is going from strength to strength, which is great news for both the seals and the local area. The fact that the estuary can support a large number of top predators shows how healthy the environment in and around the River Tees has become.

Last year, more than 4,000 visitors from around the world, joined other wildlife-lovers to watch the seals at Greatham Creek.

“Watching the seal families haul themselves out of the water and sunbathe on the mud is a sight not to be missed. Combined with a visit to the amazing wildlife reserve and discovery park at Saltholme, a visit to see the seals would be a great family day out during the summer holidays,” Ben added.

The Greatham Creek Date with Nature runs from Saturday 13 July to 30 September. Friendly staff and volunteers will be on hand every Wednesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm to show you these amazing creatures. Greatham Creek is one mile north of Saltholme, the wildlife reserve and discovery park near Middlesbrough, on the A178 between Seaton Carew and Port Clarence. As the seals don't like seeing cars parked on the roadside, visitors should park in the Teesmouth National nature reserve car park. The seal viewpoint is a 200m walk from the car park along a footpath, leading up to the new seal viewing platform. The path is suitable for both pushchairs and wheelchairs.

For more information, visit www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnature/254059-seals-at-greatham-creek. To find out more about how to help the RSPB give nature a home, visit www.rspb.org.uk/homes.

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