'Not acceptable': How ignorant beachgoers' 'kind' act killed seal pups

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

Beachgoers have been issued a stern warning about appropriate behaviour around wildlife after several people unwittingly caused the death of two seal pups.

Two young healthy pups died on Winterton Beach, in Norfolk, England, due to human intervention on Sunday (local time), according to seal welfare Facebook page Friends of Horsey Seals.

One of the animals died after people surrounded it on the dunes, preventing its mum from being able to approach, and causing her to abandon it.

This seal pup died after people blocked its mum from rescuing it. Source: Facebook/Friends of Horsey Seals

The other was chased into the water by two young children, but due to not being weaned or “waterproof”, the pup died.

“This is not acceptable. Please keep your distance. Please listen to the wardens,” the page said in a post about the two deaths.

“The site is assessed every day and if the wardens ask you to walk on the high dunes this is for your safety and the safety and protection of the seals.”

Strict rules for Australians

There are strict rules in Australia surrounding how close people can get to marine animals at the beach, Australian Marine Wildlife Research & Rescue Organisation president and founder Aaron Machado said.

“People need to maintain a safe distance of 30 metres on the beach, and 50 metres if they’re in the water,” Mr Machado told Yahoo News Australia.

Mr Machado said it was then crucial beachgoers notified the appropriate authority of the location and condition of any wildlife they spotted on the shore.

Beachgoers have been warned to keep their distance from marine animals. Source: Facebook/Friends of Horsey Seals

The consequence of not adhering to these rules could result in life-threatening injuries for either a bystander or the animal, Mr Machado said.

He said he once saw a person’s off-lead dog approach a sea lion too closely and “after about three minutes” the dog was killed.

Could transfer disease

Not only could a marine animal cause serious physical damage, Mr Machado said they also carried and had the ability to transfer diseases onto humans or other animals if they came within close contact.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest to keep their distance, as a breach in rules could cause life-threatening harm,” he said.

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