Getting close to seals is best avoided for all concerned. This for both the welfare of the animal and also the person involved.
The warmer weather may tempt you towards the coast and learning more about the marine environment. When doing so it’s important you consider both your own safety and that of any animals you may encounter.
Swimming with seals
You should remember that seals, sometimes referred to as charismatic megafauna, may look cute but are also large wild animals.
Both grey seals and common or harbour seals are protected species and there is legislation covering their illegal harm, taking or killing. In some areas of the UK we have additional protection in the form of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). MPAs include:
- European Marine Sites (Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas)
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) with marine components
- Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs)
Within these sites activities that could negatively impact the protected features, such as disturbance of seals by human activity, may be an offence.
Details of the legislation relevant to seals and the areas in which they have additional protection is available on the Government website.
'Catching Pokemon' in a Marine Conservation Zone
Areas around St Mary’s Island are legally protected and managed as part of the Coquet to St Mary’s MCZ. Although seals are not a designated feature of the MCZ visitors to the site should be mindful of their habitat and need to maintain this.