Rare seal’s visit delights Northumberland Wildlife Trust

Wednesday 25th May 2011

Bearded seal cpt Alan TilmouthBearded seal cpt Alan Tilmouth

Northumberland Wildlife Trust is delighted that a rare bearded seal visited Beadnell Beach at the weekend.

This visit is the first ever record of a bearded seal to Northumberland since records began.

The young seal was spotted quite happily lying on the beach and appeared quite fit, fat and healthy. Local wildlife tour guide Alan Tilmouth, from Northumbrian Wildlife Tours waited with the young seal for 90 minutes to ensure the tide washed it back into the sea and to safeguard it against dog attacks.

Kevin O’Hara, Conservation Officer with Northumberland Wildlife Trust and mammals expert said: “This seal was way off course as species of this type normally inhabit the waters around the Arctic. Seals wander the seas and very often get blown off course and my guess is that the strong north westerly winds have altered the water currents and blown it here. There was no cause for concern although it is very unusual for it to make an appearance on a beach in Northumberland.”

The first ever record of a bearded seal to Northumberland since records began.

The bearded seal, also called the square flipper seal is found in and near the Arctic Ocean. It’s most characteristic feature is the conspicuous and very abundant whiskers, which, when dry, curl very elegantly; this earless seal has four square flippers and thick bristles on its muzzle.

The bearded seal reaches about 2.25m (7.4ft) to 2.7m (8.9ft) in nose to tail length and from 275kg (606lb) to 340kg (750lb). Both sexes are about the same size.

Story by Northumberland Wildlife Trust
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Image credit: Bearded seal, photo Alan Tilmouth Northumbrian Wildlife Tours