I am so pleased I went to see the seals last Friday (29th November). One week later and the Warden at Donna Nook is looking at devastation as he surveys the site. The storm surge on Thursday night forced them to rip down the fence separating the seals from the dunes (which normally allows people like me to go and look at them safely), so the seals and their pups could scramble up into the dunes and into the surrounding fields for safety.
A message on the Donna Nook facebook page on Thursday night read:
22.00hrs. Just returned from Donna Nook – a scene of devastation. At 17.00hrs (2 hours before high tide), the water was already lapping round the foot of the dunes and rising very quickly. We opened the 5 gates in the fence but it soon became apparent that this would be insufficient so we set to and started cutting holes in the fence – we were soon joined in the dunes by lots of seals, so that getting around by torchlight became quite dangerous. We continued cutting holes in the fence until rising waters and dimming torches drove us back. At this point, at least two of the huts, including the big green information hut were moving. We retreated at 19.30 to fetch more torches and returned about 20.30 – the water level had dropped back beyond the fence, so avoiding the many seals in the dunes, including some mums and pups (great to see them still together), we surveyed the damage (I’ll post some pictures tomorrow evening) and checked that there were no seals in obvious distress; not surprisingly, there were several pups calling. Over the next few days, Trust staff and volunteers will be working to clear up the mess and rescue displaced seals where we can. There are seals everywhere and we would like to devote our efforts to sorting things out as quickly as possible. To this end, please don’t visit the seals for the next week or so – there is no safe viewing area, there is barely any fence. We will be back there at first light tomorrow to do some more sorting before the morning high tide. We will try to keep you all informed and thanks for all your good wishes – I’ll tell the seals tomorrow….
Since that message there have been more telling us that seals are pretty much scattered all over the place. Mums and pups have been separated, some have not made it. The Wardens are working hard to reunite seal families and make the area safe again.
Please heed the requests and do not go and visit Donna Nook until the Wardens have said it is ok again. You can follow them on twitter or facebook for more information.
Here’s a selection of the shots I took last week.
You can also have a look at the photos I took last year.
Please remember to contact me if you want to use these anywhere for whatever reason; it’s nice to ask first.