CONSERVATIONISTS have urged the public to avoid contact with seals along the North-East coast as the pupping season gets underway.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue is a UK-based charity which responds to stricken marine mammals on the UK coastline.

Richard Ilderton, regional co-ordinator for the BDMLR, said: “Grey seal pups can often be found hauled out on beaches and rocks on our local coastline as they learn to fend for themselves once they have left their mother at a month old.

“Ordinarily they are fit and well, merely resting after fishing in the North Sea, and we would urge the public to leave them alone. “Seal pups, whilst looking cute and cuddly are a wild animal, and will defend themselves if they feel threatened by people approaching them. They have exceptionally sharp teeth, and as a wild animal, carry bacteria in their mouths which can harm both people and other animals such as dogs.”

Mr Ilderton said that If anyone finds a seal pup on the shoreline, keep a safe distance, keep dogs well away, and if they are in any way concerned, call BDMLR on 01825-765546.

“Most seals will snort and hiss at someone getting too close to them, and will also lift themselves up on one flipper to make themselves appear larger than they actually are. This can be mistaken for illness or that they have an injury to one of their flippers,” he said.

“BDMLR trained Marine Mammal Medics can assess and capture injured or sick seals, and are able to transport them for treatment and rehabilitation.”

The BDMLR’s National Conference takes place in Newcastle on October 6, where there will be a number of speakers and experts in the field of cetacean rescue and research and environmental issues. More details can be found at along with information on the charity’s work.