Warning for dog walkers on beaches near Hastings Pier: Stay away from ‘aggressive’ seals as pupping season begins
People walking their dogs on beaches have been urged not to let their pets near seals.
The sea mammals may look approachable but can be aggressive and give a nasty bite.
An RSPCA ‘seal awareness’ poster has been put up next to Hastings Pier saying that as the seal breeding season gets underway people are more likely to encounter seals on the shore.
The beach around the pier is a popular spot for dog walkers, particularly at low tide when the sea retreats leaving large patches of sand, and seals are sometimes spotted in the area.
If anyone sees a seal on the beach, they should put dogs on leads and keep children away, the animal charity warns.
“Seals can look docile and approachable but can be unpredictable and are often aggressive,” the poster adds.
The animals have bacteria in their mouths which can cause infections.
People should keep their distance and never attempt to touch a seal or put it back in the water, the poster says.
It is normal for seals to rest on beaches for long periods of time - especially at this time of the year during the pupping season.
The animals give birth on land, leaving their pups unattended on shore as they swim out to sea to hunt for fish.
There are two types of seals in British waters - grey seals and common seals.
The UK is home to more than a third of the world’s grey seal population. They have a long, dog-like snout and dark mottled skin. Their breeding season is between September and December.
Common seals have a much shorter snout. Their breeding season is earlier - usually between June and September.
Experts say seals feel more at threat when on land, and when disturbed will stampede to get back to the sea. Pregnant females can lose their unborn babies, and new-born pups can be separated from their mothers.
Anyone who is concerned for a seal’s welfare should call the RSPCA national call centre on 0300 1234999.