High tides and strong winds close nature reserves on the East Coast

Friday 6th December 2013

Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Cley Marshes on 6 Dec 2013 cpt NWTNorfolk Wildlife Trust's Cley Marshes on 6 Dec 2013 cpt NWT

Due to strong winds and high tides overnight and today, individual Wildlife Trusts up and down the length of the East Coast continue to assess the damage which has occurred to coastal nature reserves.

Please note the following reserves have been affected.  They are either closed or it is not recommended to attempt to visit this weekend: 

  • Spurn Point, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
  • Kilnsea Wetlands, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
  • Far Ings, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
  • Donna Nook, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
  • Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
  • Cley Marshes, Norfolk Wildlife Trust
  • Ranworth Broad, Norfolk Wildlife Trust
  • Dingle Marshes, Suffolk Wildlife Trust
  • Hazlewood Marshes, Suffolk Wildlife Trust
  • Snape Marshes, Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Chief Executive Brendan Joyce made his way to Cley Marshes this afternoon.  The visitor centre and reserve have been inaccessible today and the reserve is likely to remain so until the water has receded and Norfolk Wildlife Trust  can repair access routes and visitor facilities.  But it aims to re-open the centre as soon as the coast road can be reopened and the car park cleared of debris to make it safe to access.  You can read Brendan's blog in full here.

For #stormsurge updates on nature reserves, check @SupportNWT, @suffolkwildlife, @LincsWildlife, @DonnaNookWarden, @NorthSeaWT @YorksWildlife, @EssexWildlife 



Please note the possibility of abandoned or injured seal pups at the current time.  It is the middle of the Grey Seal breeding season and, due to the tides, expect considerable disruption to have occurred to pups and mothers on the East Coast.

In the event of finding a live seal please be aware of the following important guidance:

Watch it from a distance.  Do not approach the animal.  Seals regularly haul out on our coasts - it is part of their normal behaviour.  Therefore, finding a seal on the beach does not mean there is necessarily a problem.  A healthy seal should be left alone. 

However, if there is a problem, there are a number of things you may see:


If you see a seal with a white, long-haired coat or you see a small seal (less than three feet in length) alone in the autumn/winter contact BDMLR and make a record of this.


Signs of malnutrition include visible ribs, hips and neck and perhaps a rather baggy, wrinkled skin.  Creature may look like it has a ‘lollipop’ head.


Signs of ill health include: coughing, sneezing or noisy, rapid breathing and possibly thick mucus coming from the nose, wounds or swellings, particularly on the flippers, and possibly favouring one flipper when moving (although remember that healthy seals will often lie on their side and bend like a banana and ‘hunch along’ on their sides, unwell seals will lie flat) cloudy eyes, or thick mucus around them, or possibly one eye kept closed most of the time a seal showing little response to any disturbance going on around it (although remember they could be soundly asleep).

If you see a seal that may be abandoned, thin or ill, then call for advice and assistance:

BDMLR hotline: 01825 765546 (office hours) or 07787 433412 (out of hours)

You will receive further advice over the phone.  If there is a problem with the animal, there are some important things you can do to help:

Provide information:

Give the hotline an accurate description of the seal and its exact location.  If at all possible, stay on the beach to guide the rescue team to the animal.  This can save valuable and perhaps critical time.  If you have a mobile, give the number to the hotline.

Control disturbance:

Stop other people and their animals from approaching the seal, because if it is a seal pup which is still suckling, then approaching it could threaten the mother-pup bond and the pup may be abandoned.  Seals will react if approached too closely and are capable of inflicting a nasty bite.  Even the smallest pup can cause serious injury and this is even more of a risk with adults.

You should avoid handling a seal pup at all costs for the same reason.  Under no circumstances pushs seals back in the sea.  A pup still suckling is a poor swimmer and an older animal may be hauled out for good reason.

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