Former Cold War weapons testing site is now home to hundreds of seals

Former Cold War weapons testing site is now home to hundreds of seals

The seals return to the same spot every year to have pups. (Picture: PA)

A military test site that was used during both world wars and the Cold War has become a thriving home for families of seals.

Over a hundred seal pups have been born in this years’ breeding season alone.

The site, called Orford Ness, was sold to the Nation Trust in 1993, and has been used by the seals since 2021.

They are likely to have spread from well-populated seal colonies in Norfolk, and have become Suffolk’s first breeding grey seal colonies.

Seals are habitual creatures, and will return to the same place every year to have babies.

Rangers working on the site have been conducting weekly ‘seal counts’, tallying up around 250 adults seals per week, with the number sometimes rising to 500.

Grey seals are the largest land-breeding mammal in the United Kingdom (Credits: PA)

Matt Wilson, who is the countryside manager for the National Trust’s Suffolk and Essex Coast portfolio, has said he believes the colony have remained at the location due to it’s remoteness and lack of disturbance.

The site was closed for an extended period during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is also closed from October to March, which is breeding season for grey seals.

Mr Wilson has called for the public to make sure they do not disturb the seals.

‘We understand that people will want to see the colony now they know it’s here, but it’s important we continue to limit disturbance, to give the pups the best chance of survival’, he said.

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He added that next winter, they are hoping to offer guided tours, however, that will minimally impact the seals.

Orford Ness’ property operations manager, Glen Pearce said they had tried to keep the growing seal colony ‘a secret’ since their arrival.

The habitual mammals can live for up to 35 years (Picture: PA)

‘The colony has now grown to a size where we want people to share this amazing wildlife success story with our supporters, but also to advise visitors how they can help us protect the colony.

‘Unauthorised access, by foot, boat or drone, is illegal and also dangerous because of the unique and remote nature of the former military site.’

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