Seal pups found dead after British storms

Heartbreak for conservationists as two thirds of pups lost from Welsh island. 

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A dead immature grey seal © Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales

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Recent storms Ophelia and Brian caused a lot of destruction around the UK, especially on the Pembrokeshire Islands of Skomer and Skokholm.

Over two thirds of Atlantic grey seal pups on Skomer were lost. The storms also damaged buildings and equipment on the island.

“These storms were the strongest since 1987 and unfortunately, violent storms like these are becoming more common as our islands are exposed and vulnerable to severe weather,” said Lizzie Wilberforce, conservation manager for Skomer and Skokholm.

“It is vital that we start to put protocols in place to better deal with the potential impacts, on both the islands’ wildlife and infrastructure.”

Atlantic grey seals rely on Skomer as a breeding site and staff on the island monitor the seal population throughout the year.

The surviving seal pups seem to have injuries, or have washed up on different beaches and could starve to death if not reunited with their mothers.

Storm disruptions such as these can have a profound impact on wildlife and so staff will now be monitoring the resulting effects of the storms on the islands.

Skomer and Stokholm are managed by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and are home to an abundance of wildlife, including over half the world’s population of Manx shearwater. 

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Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine