Hundreds of baby seals killed by storm in nature reserve

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A devastating blow killed hundreds of baby seals in a Scottish nature reserve.

Winter storm Arwen – which hit the UK and Scotland with strong gusts of over 75 mph last week – claimed the lives of over 800 baby seals in the National Trust for Scotland St Abb’s Head reserve .

The Trust said it had never seen damage of this magnitude before, the BBC reported.

The storm struck at an extremely unfortunate time for the reserve, when it was “the peak of calving season,” Ranger Ciaran Hatsell said. In its wake, Storm Arwen thus left “a rather dark scene”.

While the reserve has seen a massive growth in seal pups over the past decade, recent damage has likely dealt a lasting blow: While Hatsell said the area’s pups have recently been numbered in excess of 2,000, he fears that nearly half – or more than 40 percent of them – are now lost.

“The storm that hit was phenomenal and to strike at this time of year is really tough,” he said. “Something on this scale, one event, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Seals on the Farne Islands during the annual census of pup numbers in one of England’s largest gray seal colonies.
PA Images / Sipa United States

Hatsell saw the damage firsthand, in the bloodiest way possible.

“Seeing piles of dead puppies in the water – just floaters – was really hard to see,” he said.

baby seals dead storm
A young harbor seal on the beach at Horsey Gap in Norfolk.
PA Images / Sipa United States

Other wildlife in the region also suffered during the storm, according to the National Trust for Scotland.

“Unfortunately, it looks like we lost the majority of our baby seals to this storm,” he posted on Facebook, according to the BBC. “It is a risk that gray seals take with their breeding strategy, giving birth at this time of year when storms are most frequent … But that this kind of phenomenal storm hits at the height of calving is exceptional. “

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