Stop taking selfies with seals, Yorkshire charity warns visitors

Tourists in search of Insta-friendly snaps are disturbing and frightening sea animals

Colin Drury
Saturday 19 September 2020 16:01 BST
A seal at Flamborough Head in East Yorkshire
A seal at Flamborough Head in East Yorkshire (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Tourists to Yorkshire’s coast have been told to stop taking selfies with seals amid a surge of visitors attempting to get Insta-friendly snaps.

The mammals are being distressed by those getting up close for pictures, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has warned.

Dogs off their leads, drones and coastal explorers have also disturbed and disorientated the seals, which come ashore along the East and North Yorkshire coast every year to give birth.

Such interaction was especially dangerous, the charity said, because frightened seals were known to abandon pups who then had no way of making it back to the safety of the sea.

Matt Barnes, a volunteer with MCS, said: “Seals are very vulnerable to disturbance, which upsets their routine of feeding and digestion, increases their use of energy, raises their stress levels and means they are more likely to injure themselves.”

He added that a rise in staycation tourists – believed to be down to the coronavirus pandemic – had “manifested in people seeking ‘seal selfies’, having uncontrolled dogs off the leads, drones, water craft and coastal explorers disturbing vital haul out sites [areas where seals gather on land]”.

Common and grey seal colonies thrive in the area with hundreds hauling themselves on to land along the 90-mile coastline every summer, particularly at Flamborough Head and Robin Hood’s Bay.

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