A LEADING marine conservation charity has issued advice on how to help grey seals now their pupping season is underway along the Devon coast.

The Seal Research Trust is a multi-award winning conservation charity that conducts research aimed at putting grey seals on everyone’s agenda by giving seals a voice and inspiring people to learn more about this UK globally rare species.

Autumn is a hard time for grey seals as it’s their pupping season just as the weather takes a turn for the worse says the Trust.

In the last decade, autumn and winter storms have been increasing in frequency and severity, likely driven by climate change which his impacts grey seals at their most vulnerable time.

The Trust is keen to remind people that seals need space away from humans. When pups are born on publicly accessible beaches they are most at risk from human disturbance – which for a young pup could prove fatal.

‘If you find a lone seal ashore then please give it plenty of space and stay out of sight to avoid disturbing it,’ said Sue Sayer MBE, founder and director of the Seal Research Trust.

‘We all need to stay 100 metres away from seals on land and in the sea and stay on paths and off beaches where seals are sleeping.

‘Seals only spend 20 per cent of their time on land and sleep is vital to their health and wellbeing – as it is to us. If seals are awake, alert and looking at us, then they are aware of our presence and are wasting precious “survival vital” energy.’

The Trust recommends that if you see a seal and you are concerned for its welfare you should call British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546.

The BDMLR can make a decision of how best to deal with the seal. These options include to rescue it and take it for rehabilitation, monitor it, if it is an unweaned pup and there is a chance its mum could find it again and manage people if it is a weaned pup that simply needs time and space to recover before going back to sea.

► More details about the work of the Seal Research Trust and information on how you can help can be found here.